- Date: February 02, 2016
Our wetlands are essential for life, they’re home to a variety of wildlife, help prevent flooding, store carbon dioxide to regulate climate change and protect our coastlines.
But did you know that more than a billion people make a living from wetlands across the world? Wetlands provide livelihoods, from fishing and eco-tourism, to farming and drinking water for communities. WWF is working to support some of the world’s most vital wetlands and the communities that depend on them across Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Manuel Barbosa is among those relying on healthy wetlands to support himself and his family.
Barbosa, a small-scale farmer in Brazil, inherited land and a love for nature from his father. He grows fruit and vegetables and also raises dairy cattle on his small farm, all for his family’s own consumption. He feels his greatest achievement is the contribution he has made to the Pantanal, the world’s largest wetland, by supporting a new Pact to conserve its headwaters. Part of this Pact is the conservation of the stream—Queima Pé—that runs through his property and provides clean water to the 90,000 people who live in his community called Tangará da Serra.
“People need to understand that protecting springs guarantees water for everybody, because the water from the spring flows into the stream, which flows into the river and feeds the whole region,” Barbosa said. “Water is everything. Water is life. The same water that I drink, that quenches the thirst of my cows, is the same water that supplies the town and its businesses and which people use to drink, shower and wash.” In 2015, the Pact’s partners, including WWF-Brasil, helped to improve water filtration into the land and minimize erosion and sedimentation run off from roads through activities such as contour planting—a method of planting across a slope, following the curves of the land—and the restoration of forest around the source of the stream.
“Thanks to contour planting, when it rains now, the water can infiltrate properly into the soil and consequently feed the spring and stream,” Barbosa said. “My pastures have improved, but the main thing is that it ensures there is plenty of clean water in the stream.”