The building of an ambitious river link in South America could spell disaster for the Pantanal, the world’s largest wetlands, The World Wildlife Fund warned Monday.
The $1.3 billion Hidrovia waterway would join the Parana and Paraguay rivers to create a 2,000-mile water link and provide greater access to the Atlantic Ocean for Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay.
“The project would require massive dredging for more than 10 years, building dozens of dikes and correcting curves in the river,” the fund said in a statement from its headquarters in Washington.
The head of the WWF in Brazil, Eduardo Martins, said the project could destroy the delicate ecosystems of the Pantanal, which means swampland in Portuguese.
Sprawling over 53,760 square miles in Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia, the Pantanal is home to a wealth of species such as jaguars, giant anteaters, caymans, marsh deer, giant otters, toucans and rare hyacinth macaws.