River Ecosystems in the Amazon Don't Get Enough Attention, Researchers Warn

Despite their rapid decline, the ecosystems are often overlooked

By on February 10th, 2013 20:31 GMT

A study published in the journal Conservation Letters just recently warns that, despite their declining at troubling rates, river ecosystems in the Amazon are more often than not overlooked by those in charge of piecing together and implementing various conservation strategies.

Apparently, this is because most conservationists and environmental biologists focus on terrestrial ecosystems, and lose sight of the fact that aquatic ones are equally important and, therefore, worthy of their attention.

According to Mongabay, Leandro Castello, a specialist collaborating with the Woods Hole Research Center, wishes to draw attention to the fact that upstream and downstream activities such as oil extraction, gold mining, forest clearing and dam-building affect not just lands ecosystems, but the entirety of the Amazonian river system.

Seeing how the latter is responsible for keeping the entire Amazon area up and running, it need not come as a surprise that safeguarding it is of utmost importance.

“Existing management policies—including national water resources legislation, community-based natural resource management schemes, and the protected area network that now epitomizes the Amazon conservation paradigm—cannot adequately curb most impacts,” reads the study published by Leandro Castello and his fellow researchers in the journal Conservation Letters.

Furthermore, “Such management strategies are intended to conserve terrestrial ecosystems, have design and implementation deficiencies, or fail to account for the hydrologic connectivity of freshwater ecosystems. There is an urgent need to shift the Amazon conservation paradigm, broadening its current forest-centric focus to encompass the freshwater ecosystems that are vital components of the basin.”

As these researchers warn, hydroelectric dams constitute the main threat the Amazonian river system is currently facing.

Thus, 154 such facilities are already up and running, 21 find themselves in construction and plans have been made to erect more in the not so distant future.

Overfishing stands to impact both on the local food wen and on the people inhabiting this part of the world, whereas pollution must not be neglected either.

“Significant strides in Amazon conservation have been on deforestation because deforestation has been studied and monitored year after year. We now need to do the same for these aquatic ecosystems,” Leandro Castello warns.

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