The SNAPP Amazon Waters Working Group has produced a geographic information system (GIS) “roadmap” to help guide conservation efforts in the Amazon River basin, a region roughly the size of the United States. Rivers, lakes, flooded forests, and wetlands cover 14 percent of the basin, making them the greatest freshwater system in the world. The Amazon River system’s enormous size, multinational composition, and interconnected nature have made it difficult to manage and include in terrestrially-based conservation schemes. The roadmap applies spatial analysis tools to a new hydrological and river basin classification that together provide a dynamic way to map natural resources and possible infrastructure impacts on them at various scalable levels in the Amazon.
“This new tool will enable scientists and governments to monitor development initiatives across the Amazon basin and help guide policy to minimize the environmental impact of these activities.”
- Michael Goulding, Lead Scientist, Wildlife Conservation Society
With the region considering additional infrastructure projects, the framework will help decisionmakers assess the synergistic impacts of the proposed dams and highways in combination with ongoing development, deforestation, and mining and petroleum exploration by integrating data across the Amazon Basin.
The effort represents the first comprehensive Amazonian river basin classification that can serve the needs of conservation and monitoring at multiple scales—from analysis of basin-scale floods to stream-specific fisheries impacts. To create it, the scientists divided the river basin into a number of sub-basins defined by 11 different stream orders ranging from tiny streams to the Amazon River itself. Seven distinct levels of basins were defined, with the main Amazon Basin as Level 1, larger tributary sub-basins as Level 2, and so on.
More information about the Amazon Waters Initiative.
An explicit GIS-based river basin framework for aquatic ecosystem conservation in the Amazon,
Venticinque, E., B. Forsberg; R. Barthem, E. Goeldi; P. Petry, L. Hess. A. Mercado, C. Cañas, M. Montoya, C. Durigan, and M. Goulding,
Earth Systems Science Data, 23 Nov 2016. doi:10.5194/essd-8-651-2016