Lands of southern Brazil: the swamp

gaucho swamp

The swamp consists of a humid environment, with aquatic macrophytes in its extension and, generally, with undrained soil. It is a common formation of the gaucho pampas, also characterized by being a transition area between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, guaranteeing their survival.

The base of their food chain consists of algae, which snails feed on, and are fed by fish, successively following an entire food web. Waterfowl, anuran amphibians, crocodilian and testudinate reptiles and mammals such as capybaras are typical of this environment.

Incredibly, this ecosystem is considered one of the richest in terms of species diversity, since it is rich in organic matter, providing food for various plants and microorganisms. Despite its importance, the wetland suffers from many threats, mainly caused by drainage, for rice, tobacco, castor bean, soybean, corn and transgenic crops, and their pesticides.

The fact that it is flooded and visually poor meant that these areas were considered useless and, for this reason, invaded by agricultural expansion, used for garbage disposal and backfilling for infrastructure works. Another threat is erosion, natural events of this ecosystem, but which have been accelerated by human intervention.

As in any natural environment, these actions can lead to the destruction and disappearance of wetlands in the medium term, since their formation is a slow process and will probably not be able to compete with the destruction as it has been.

There are some environmental legislations that seek to protect this ecosystem, such as Decree No. 41,559, of April 24, 2002, which creates the Banhado dos Pachecos Wildlife Refuge, located in the Municipality of Viamão.

Therefore, those who still believe that swamps only exist to breed mosquitoes are sorely mistaken! 

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