La Plata

Length 3,740 Km
Basin size 3 million Km2
Population > 100 million
Population density 33 people/ Km2
Key economic activity Agriculture, fishing
Threats New infrastructure and hydrological alterations for shipping and 27 proposed large dams, climate change, pollution, over-fishing
Importance
The La Plata basin is the 2nd largest river basin in South America.

Location
The Rio de la Plata crosses 5 countries: Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Bolivia. The river basin has 3 main tributaries, the Paraná, the Paraguay and the Uruguay Rivers. The Paraná tributary river basin supplies the Brazilian cities Sao Paolo and Brasilia.

People
Although the Paraná basin alone supports 19 large cities of more than 100,000 people, currently the per capita water supply per person is ample.

Species
Freshwater biodiversity is rich. There are over 350 fish species - the 3rd highest among medium sized basins. Of these, 85 are found nowhere else in the world. This basin is also home to the rare La Plata River Dolphin, and the only species of lungfish found in the Neotropics, Lepidosiren paradoxa.

La Plata's Pantanal wetlands, located mostly in southwest Brazil but also extending to southeast Bolivia and northern Paraguay, are the largest freshwater wetland in the world, covering 140,000 Km2, and home to a vast array of wildlife.

This biological diversity encompasses 650 species of birds - including parrots, hawks, eagles, kites, 260 species of fish, 90 species of reptiles, over 1,600 species of flowering plants, and over 80 species of mammals - including ocelots, jaguars, and tapirs.

Thousands of permanent and semi-permanent lakes and ponds supporting the most diverse floating aquatic plant community in the world cover the Pantanal’s lowest areas. During the wet season, this wetland acts as a gigantic natural control mechanism for the floodwaters of the Paraguay River.


For references please download the pdf of the report
 / ©: WWF
Map of the Plata Basin. Click on the map to enlarge.
© WWF
Threat to the River: Infrastructure / ©: WWF
Threat to the River: Infrastructure
© WWF
Hyacinth macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus). / ©: WWF - Canon/Martin HARVEY
Hyacinth macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus), Pantanal, Brazil.
© WWF - Canon/Martin HARVEY

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