The world’s largest wet biome is also on fire. Is very. THE Pantanal Brazil suffers one of the greatest environmental tragedies ever recorded in the country, while volunteers and brigadiers try to put out the fire and rescue injured animals. But, in the medium and long term, what would be the ways to recover what was lost?
THE Estadão listened to environmental experts to try to obtain a kind of recovery plan for the Pantanal, which can bring back the 19% of destroyed territory, according to the Life Center Institute. In the view of these scholars, the work needs to be diversified, multidisciplinary and involve local communities, agribusiness producers, civil society, scientists and public authorities.
“Pantanal is an absurdly resilient system. So it seems that people forget what happened in the past. The visual restoration will be the same in six months, but part of the biome will remain empty ”, warns Thiago Izzo, post-doctor in Biology, specialist in Evolutionary Ecology and professor at the Federal University of Mato Grosso (UFMT). According to him, small animals and plants may soon be seen, but large species do not grow overnight. “Those who do not know the biological processes and demands will find that everything has been resolved, but what has died is not so easy.”
The professor argues that, in addition to remedies, it is necessary to prevent the fire from occurring again. “It is important that next year, in March, April, at the latest, prevention and inspection campaigns begin. This time, attention is being paid at the end of the process ”, he laments. The researcher compares this year’s fires to the new coronavirus pandemic: “We have never been there.” Despite the history of fire that already exists in the biome at specific times and extensions, Izzo says that the fire this time “reached unprecedented proportions”.
An alternative for the coming years, he adds, is the controlled fire technique, already used before, to prevent these large fires from getting out of control. Forests are huge fields of combustible material, such as dry leaves, wood and shrubs. With the flames under control, part of the material will already be consumed, with much less material to be burned when the drought arrives.
In surrounding. The responsibility for conservation and restoration, however, is not only in the Pantanal: the region’s surroundings influence what happens in the humid biome. “The large farms that are landing a stream to plant crops, for example. There are thousands of streams and springs that dry at the time with little rain, in the Cerrado, and this reduces the amount of water that reaches the Pantanal ”, says Izzo.
Professor Janaina Guernica, a researcher at the UFMS Pantanal campus, highlights in her research project the importance of mining activity in increasing the biome’s vulnerability. According to her, the extraction of iron ore in Corumbá (MS) has promoted not only the removal of tree species from the area to be mined, but also a chemical imbalance in the region’s soil – and with that the revegetation is quite compromised. “An alternative would be the production of seedlings using the mining process waste itself, so that the amount of nutrients is corrected”, he explains in a video on YouTube at UFMS.
According to climatologist Carlos Nobre, the common use of fire to open new areas or prepare the land for renovation of pasture and agricultural crops should be replaced by “new practices in national agriculture”. He explains that modern agriculture does not use fire and deforest much less. On the contrary, the modern concept of regenerative production is based on mosaics of agricultural areas surrounded by restoration of natural ecosystems, which provide numerous environmental services and also benefit agriculture, maintaining the flow of necessary pollinators and reducing climatic extremes. “Modern agriculture is also moving towards being more peri-urban and vertical, increasing productivity, seeking a circular economy, creating less pollution and waste and much less pesticides.”
Researchers heard by Estadão they also highlighted the importance of a change in mentality when dealing with the subject. “Knowledge generation based on the mobilization of the local population” is the focus of Áurea Garcia, PhD in Environmental Education and founder of the NGO Women in Action in the Pantanal (Mupan), which works alongside traditional communities.
According to her, emergency fire fighting is not enough to reverse the situation: there is a need for a transformation of the look at the territory. “When we think about the Pantanal, we have a diversity of actors and interests. There is no way to look at the short term ”, he says. The researcher highlights the importance of disseminating knowledge in local communities. The intention is to promote discussions and bring information to them, making people and local leaders “recognize the Pantanal as a territory of life”.
“That these communities also feel part of it, that it is not just a space where they live, and that they take into account in relation to conservation and sustainability”, he says.