In-danger designation requested for Pantanal wetlands in Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay | Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA) Skip to content Skip to navigation
2 February 2022

On World Wetlands Day, advocates urged the Ramsar Convention Secretariat to conduct an advisory visit to wetlands severely affected by fires, and for the governments of the three countries to inscribe the sites on the global list of wetlands at risk of disappearing.


Gland, Switzerland -- Civil society organizations sent an urgent alert to the Ramsar Convention today requesting a full assessment of damage caused by recent fires in the Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetland, a natural area shared between Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay.

The groups requested that the Secretariat conduct an advisory mission to analyze the state of six wetlands, which the Convention has recognized as being sites of international importance, and for the wetlands to be included on the Montreux Record, a list of the world’s most at-risk wetlands.

The Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA), the Center for Biological Diversity and Ecologia e Ação (ECOA) sent the alert on World Wetlands Day. They also urged the three governments to urgently implement measures to preserve the Pantanal as a transboundary ecosystem.

The Ramsar sites addressed in the request are the Bolivian Pantanal; the Reserva Particular do Patrimonio Natural SESC Pantanal, the Reserva Particular do Patrimonio Natural Fazenda Rio Negro, the Pantanal Matogrosense National Park and the Taiamã Ecological Station in Brazil; as well as the Rio Negro National Park in Paraguay.

"A Ramsar in-danger designation is crucial to combating the Pantanal’s huge and unprecedented fires, which now threaten Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay," said Alejandro Olivera, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Public policies that promote agriculture and livestock expansion and allow burning within the Pantanal have combined with limited cross-border collaboration to create a tinderbox. Ecosystem-damaging fires will continue without stronger commitments to protect these critical wetland habitats."

In 2020, fires devastated 4.3 million hectares of the Pantanal region, the highest number since monitoring began in 1998; the number of fires burning in the area was 508% more than average. That same year, fires burned 100 percent of the Pantanal National Park Matogrossense. At least 10 million animals died in just three months. Unusually large fires continued in July 2021.

"We are asking the States to comply with the obligations acquired before the Convention, generating coherent mechanisms and implementing policies and norms to protect the Pantanal," explained AIDA attorney Claudia Velarde. "An advisory mission to the six Ramsar sites could provide specialized assistance to the Brazilian, Bolivian and Paraguayan governments to overcome the conditions that pose risks to the conservation and wise use of this key wetland.”

Likewise, the inscription of the sites on the Montreux Record can result in economic aid, support and technical advice, for the recovery of the Pantanal in the three countries.

"We sent an urgent alert for Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay to focus on the Pantanal as the world's largest transboundary freshwater wetland," said Andre Siqueira, President Director of ECOA. "The Ramsar Convention cannot achieve its objectives if the ecosystems it protects are significantly damaged by the continued use of fire, agribusiness and the lack of adequate resources to fight fires."

The biodiversity and ecological richness of the Pantanal is incalculable. At least 3,500 species of plants, about 600 birds, 150 mammals, 175 reptiles, 40 amphibians and 300 freshwater fish inhabit the biome. Many are in danger of extinction in other regions, such as the tuyuyú and the jaguar, the marsh deer, the giant otter and the macaw, all emblematic species of the biome. The Pantanal is home to the highest concentration of species such as the jaguar and the caiman.

press contacts:

Alejandro Olivera (Mexico), Center for Biological Diversity, +52 612 1040604, [email protected]

Victor Quintanilla (Mexico), AIDA, +521 5570522107, [email protected]

André Luiz Siqueira (Brazil), ECOA, +55 67 33243230, [email protected]



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