Any debate about the environment in Brazil usually includes the Amazon rainforest. On the other hand, Pantanal, the largest wetland on the planet, remains relatively unknown to international audiences. It also hasn’t been extensively explored by locals, despite its abundance of wildlife and picturesque landscapes. Pantanal is part of the Paraguay River Basin, an area that extends across Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina, and where about 10 million people currently live. The floodplain covers the equivalent of the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, and Switzerland.
These superlative dimensions, however, are not enough to preserve Pantanal. About 40 percent of the wetlands are under serious threat, according to a recent WWF report. Pantanal has been made a World Heritage Site by the United Nations, yet national law suspends the territory in a position of vulnerability. Less than 1 percent of the tableland is protected by Conservation Units, and over half of the area has already been cleared.