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Title: Water environments: Anthropogenic pressures and ecosystem changes in the Atlantic drainage basins of Brazil
Authors: Marques, Marcia
Costa, M. F.
Mayorga, Maria Irles de Oliveira
Pinheiro, Patrícia R.C.
Keywords: Coastal Zone
Drainage Basin
Ecosystem Health
Environmental Impact
Environmental Planning
Nature-society Relations
Vegetation Dynamics
South America
Issue Date: 2004
metadata.dc.publisher.journal: Ambio
metadata.dc.relation.ispartof: Volume 33, Número 1-2, Pags. 68-77
Abstract: Densely occupied drainage basins and coastal zones in developing countries that are facing economic growth are likely to suffer from moderate to severe environmental impacts regarding different issues. The catchment basins draining towards the Atlantic coast from northeastern to southern Brazil include a wide range of climatic zones and diverse ecosystems. Within its borders lies the Atlantic rain forest, significant extensions of semiarid thorn forests (caatinga), vast tree and scrub woodlands (cerrado) and most of the 6670 km of the Brazilian coast and its marine ecosystems. In recent decades, human activities have increasingly advanced over these natural resources. Littoralization has imposed a burden on coastal habitats and communities. Most of the native vegetation of the cerrado and caatinga was removed and only 7% of the original Atlantic rainforest still exists. Estuaries, bays and coastal lagoons have been irreversibly damaged. Land uses, damming and water diversion have become the major driving forces for habitat loss and aquatic ecosystem modification. Regardless of the contrast between the drought-affected northeastern Brazil and the much more prosperous and industrialized southeastern/southern Brazil, the impacts on habitat and communities were found equally severe in both cases. Attempts to halt environmental degradation have not been effective. Instead of focusing on natural resources separately, it is suggested that more integrated environmental policies that focus on aquatic ecosystems integrity are introduced.
metadata.dc.identifier.doi: 10.1579/0044-7447-33.1.68
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