Safeguard Amazon Biodiversity, Monitor Infrastructure Development
With a mission to preserve the rich biodiversity of the Amazon, a team of scientists from WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society), The Nature Conservancy, and several partners in Brazil and Peru have produced a geographic information system (GIS) “roadmap” to help guide conservation efforts in the Amazon River basin.
Considering the Amazon River system’s enormous size and interconnected nature, managing and conserving it is a great challenge.
This new roadmap applies spatial analysis tools to a new hydrological and river basin classification. The new tool provides a dynamic way to map natural resources and possible infrastructure impacts on them at various scalable levels in the Amazon.
Michael Goulding, Lead Scientist, Wildlife Conservation Society, said, “This new tool will enable scientists and governments to monitor development initiatives across the Amazon basin and help guide policy to minimize the environmental impact of these activities.”
The Amazon is a region roughly the size of the United States. It is home to the most biodiverse rainforest on Earth. Lakes, rivers, flooded forests, and wetlands cover 14 percent of the basin, making them the greatest freshwater system in the world.
How it Works
The new roadmap offers a wide range of benefits especially with regards to conservation and development plans in the region.
The roadmap will guide decisionmakers to assess the synergistic impacts of the proposed dams or any ongoing development, mining, deforestation, and petroleum exploration by integrating data across the Amazon Basin.
In addition, the roadmap is the first comprehensive Amazonian river basin classification that supports and helps conservation and monitoring at multiple scales including analysis of basin-scale floods to stream-specific fisheries impacts.
Aside from that, the new roadmap helps focus conservation and management efforts on waters and wetlands and the important resources they contain, including more than 2,400 species of fish. Through this, it will promote a more integrated and large-scale approach to protecting the Amazon Basin.
The Amazing Amazon
The Amazon is the single largest remaining tropical rainforest in the world that houses at least 10% of the world’s known biodiversity, including endemic and endangered flora and fauna. Its river accounts for 15-16% of the world’s total river discharge into the oceans.
The Amazon River flows for more than 6,600 km. Interestingly, it has hundreds of tributaries and streams that contain the largest number of freshwater fish species in the world.