, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 597-609

Status of knowledge, ongoing research, and research needs in Amazonian wetlands

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Abstract

Exploitation and exploration of the Amazon basin by Europeans started in the 17th century, but only since about 1970 has the Brazilian government given priority to the connection of the Amazon basin to the industrialized southern part of the country. This new policy required scientific research on the natural resources of the area. Wetlands cover about 20% of the Amazon basin. Inland fishery, fertile floodplain soils, and hydroelectric energy offer a large potential for economic development. Research concentrates on major wetlands and water bodies near the large cities. The Amazon River floodplain belongs to the best studied tropical river floodplains in the world. However, studies in other areas suffer from lack of wetland inventory and classification. Accelerated economic development is not adequately accompanied by wetland research. Insufficient knowledge about distribution, size, structure and function of many wetlands leads to increasing degradation and loss of biodiversity, for instance, by the construction of hydroelectric power plants, large scale deforestation for cattle ranching and agro-industrial projects, mining activities, the construction of navigation channels (hidrovias), etc. The low number of scientists working in the area and lack of funding require close cooperation in problem-oriented multidisciplinary projects (scientific clustering) to optimize scientific outcome. Intensive, long-term cooperation and scientific exchange with institutions from southern Brazil and from abroad is recommended to improve the scientific infrastructure in Amazonian institutions, to accelerate the transfer of new scientific methods and technology, and to intensify the training program for local human resources.

This revised version was published online in March 2005 with corrections to the issue cover date.