The objective of this activity is to learn what research goes into conservation planning and to evaluate suggested conservation strategies for the Pantanal.
RAP stands for "Rapid Assessment Program" and represents a scientific study of all taxa in a set area over a short period of time in previously unstudied areas. In order to be rapid and equally effective, RAPs rely on getting together a group of the world's top scientists, with specialized knowledge of the area being surveyed. This means that almost everything can be identified on sight, so when the expedition is complete the team has a good idea of the biodiversity and ecosystems and what can be done to best preserve the area. After a RAP, the information gathered is used to write a conservation strategy report for policy makers and community members, as well as for the scientific community.
In order to develop a conservation strategy for the Pantanal, data on the biology, ecology, and physical and chemical characteristics of the region were urgently needed. A CI AquaRAP was completed in 1998 and the following recommendations were given for the area based on information from the RAP. Read the following recommendations and answer the questions that follow.
2000 Pantanal AquaRAP Conservation Recommendations:
"Curtail activities that affect flooding duration and intensity including, but not limited to, dredging, channelization and planned damming projects. Flooded areas must be protected as nurseries for fishes and invertebrates. Discontinue deforestation and implement reforestation programs along river margins, particularly in the headwater regions. Work to establish a corridor of protected critical habitats from the headwaters to the lower floodplain of the Rio Negro. The commitment of the local ranchers and communities is essential to the conservation of the Pantanal. Ecotourism is arising as a possible ally and is one way to get local communities involved in preserving the biodiversity of the area."
Many of the dredging and channelization projects were proposed to increase the amount of water traffic going through the Pantanal, making it faster to export goods produced in the area. While this has economic incentives for the area, it also would affect the annual flooding. What economic incentives can be given by preserving the existing waterways?
Questions for thought:
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of ecotourism in the Pantanal? Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?
- How can ecotourism be regulated? Design an example program to develop, guide, and monitor ecological tourism in a region of high biodiversity with which you are familiar.
- Much of the land in the Pantanal is privately owned by farmers and ranchers. However, one of the major AquaRAP recommendations is to create more protected area systems. What incentives can be given to these private landowners to allow their land to become a protected area?
- Do you believe RAPs provide an accurate representation of the biodiversity of regions? Compare the advantages of having a RAP vs. a long-term scientific study.
<< Return to Main Day 6 Dispatch | Go to Day 7 Dispatch >>