Wildlife & Biodiversity

Is climate change killing Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetlands?

During a climate crisis, the world’s largest tropical wetlands must be saved before it is too late

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 24 August 2021

The Pantanal wetlands are located in the heart of South America and are the world’s largest tropical wetlands. Home to a wealth of biodiversity, they stretch from Brazil into Paraguay and Bolivia.

Unlike the Amazon rainforest, vegetation in the Pantanal has evolved to coexist with fire — many plant species there require the heat from fires to germinate. Often caused by lightning strikes, those natural fires spring up at the end of the dry season, but the surrounding floodplains prevent them from spreading.

What’s different now is the drought, contributing further to the unusually dry conditions and exacerbating the fire risk. More than 580 species of birds, 271 of fish, 174 of mammals, 131 of reptiles and 57 of amphibians thrive in the region’s flooded areas, grasslands, lakes and forests.

Unceasing fires have killed many species or left them without homes to migrate to. The number of fires in the region has been drastically increasing with every passing year.

In 2020, there were 3,506 fires from January 1 to July 22, a 192 per cent increase from 2019. In 2019-20, the region suffered the worst drought in 50 years. During a climate crisis, the world’s largest tropical wetlands must be saved before it is too late.


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