The Pantanal is one of the largest and most spectacular freshwater ecosystems in the world, with an exceptionally high biodiversity. It is located south of the Amazon basin, at the crossroads of Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay. It covers an estimated area of 175,000 square kilometers, about half the size of California. Numerous distinct ecological systems exist within its confines.
Tributaries of the Paraguay River flood and recede every year, rhythmically transforming the region from floodplains to grassy savannahs. In addition to critical habitats for a diverse and highly concentrated array of vegetation and wildlife, the Pantanal’s hydrological system supports and provides certain invaluable ecosystem services to local communities, such as water purification, nutrient storage, sediment trapping, flood control, storm protection, and climate stabilization.
Located in the center of South America, the Pantanal forms a link between the biomes of the Amazon, the Cerrito savannah and the Chacos of Bolivia and Paraguay. The region lies at an altitude of less than 150 meters and the landscape is virtually flat. During the rainy season up to 80% of the territory is inundated, forcing out most of the local population, who temporarily migrate to the surrounding towns and villages. Beyond rivers and various forests, the Pantanal is a complex system of marshlands, floodplains, lagoons and interconnected drainage channels.