The importance of freshwater corridors in the Amazon

The importance of freshwater corridors in the Amazon

by The Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture

Keep Flowing: The Importance of Freshwater Corridors in the Amazon

Existing and potential dam projects in the Amazon region. Our data included mainly hydroelectric projects, with a small number of existing dam projects without hydroelectric production (installed capacity = 0). Credit: Science and Practice of Conservation (2022). DOI: 10.1111/csp2.12853

The Amazon rainforest and basin are crucial to the balance of Earth’s environmental systems that support life as we know it. The world’s largest tropical rainforest covers 6.7 million square kilometers and encompasses the world’s largest network of forests and rivers, hosting around 10% of the world’s biodiversity and 20% of the planet’s fresh water.

However, there are few studies on the monitoring of freshwater corridors and their importance for biodiversity and related ecosystem services. A new study published in Science and Practice of Conservation, assesses the critical areas that need to be protected to maintain this delicate balance. The study was co-authored by Bernardo Caldas, a researcher at the Bioversity Alliance and CIAT and director of the MEL for CALPE, and Michele Thieme.

“The data and information generated by this research group are crucial for the conscious and integrated management of freshwater ecosystems in the Amazon. In addition to biodiversity, the health of these freshwater systems is crucial for food production and climate change adaptation strategies,” Caldas said.

Protection of multiple ecosystem services

Rivers and related freshwater systems (floodplains and temporary lakes) in the Amazon serve multiple functions: they provide habitats for freshwater fish populations that provide food security for both local communities and cities in the region , transport sediment downstream, mitigate the impacts of extreme weather events such as droughts or floods, and provide habitats for biodiversity. Safeguarding healthy, free-flowing rivers is crucial to maintaining these critical ecosystem services over time.

This new research provides an understanding of where these freshwater corridors or “swimming lanes” currently exist, and where they could disappear due to future hydropower development that blocks the movement of key migratory species in the Amazon Basin, including fish, dolphins and turtles. The intent of this research is to provide a case for the protection of these key corridors as part of the larger system of Amazon Regional Protected Areas to ensure the vitality and health of local ecosystems, freshwater flows, quality and amount of water, forests and forests. stable banks, and species for people and nature.

In conducting the research, scientists from various organizations and academics, led by WWF, analyzed more than 340,000 km of Amazon rivers, starting with an assessment of the connectivity status of all rivers and then combining it with the presence of migratory fish, migratory turtles and dolphins. . The resulting map shows where freshwater connectivity corridors (FCCs) exist and where they would be disrupted in a hydropower development scenario considering currently proposed or planned dams.

More information:
Bernardo Caldas et al, Identifying the current and future status of freshwater connectivity corridors in the Amazon basin, Science and Practice of Conservation (2022). DOI: 10.1111/csp2.12853

Provided by The Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture

Citation: Keep Flowing: The Importance of Freshwater Corridors in the Amazon (January 25, 2023) Retrieved January 25, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-01-importance-freshwater-corridors- amazon.html

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