In recent years, the Parana Delta has been a centre of attention due to excessive extraction of natural resources, replacement of native vegetation, intense droughts and fires (207,000 ha of native vegetation were destroyed by fires during April 2008), wetland degradation and drainage patterns modification for large-scale livestock farming.
Causes of degradation
Undoubtedly, there is a clear relation between the situation of the Parana Delta and the surrounding agricultural landscape, where the expansion of soybean is pushing the cattle towards “marginal” areas, and creates conditions for unsustainable practices in the wetlands. Big-scale livestock farming and changes in land-uses within the Parana Delta are a direct consequence of the massive expansion of soybean cultivations.
Soybean crops are the main driver forcing livestock (around one million cows) to move from the Pampas to the edge of the Parana Delta and its islands. This scenario includes the construction of embankments, the spraying of agrochemicals and the use of intentional fires, which added to more frequent droughts (due to climate change influence) seriously threaten wetlands and the accumulated organic soil.
Affecting people’s livelihoods
Other traditional local activities like the Coypu (Myocastor coypus) harvest for leather industry and subsistence fishing are decreasing due to the over-exploitation of resources and/or the aforementioned climate-related events like droughts.
The increase in the use of the Delta’s natural resources and related poor practices for water and soil management, plus the occurrence of intense droughts, resulted in severe impacts affecting this vast wetland ecosystem, its wildlife, fisheries and other local activities and associated livelihoods.
The loss of traditional livelihoods as a result of wetland degradation by ill-conceived water management, has driven local people to migrate from small and medium-sized towns to major urban centres, feeding poverty belts and shanty towns.
Need for our work
There is a clear need to take action for the conservation of wetland natural processes and local livelihoods within the Parana Delta, by influencing local and regional policies in the way that they take into account the need for the integrated use of wetland resources as the basis for food and water security.