Araguaia River Biodiversity Corridor
The Araguaia is Brazil’s third largest river outside the Amazon basin. It originates in the Cerrado grasslands of Emas National Park and flows 1,800 kilometers into the Amazon, bordering four states – Goiás, Mato Grosso, Tocantins, and Pará. In general, some 60% of the river runs through the Cerrado biome and some 40% through the Amazon, encompassing both of the country’s largest biomes.
The 13 protected areas and five indigenous reserves along the Araguaia River strengthens its status as the most important biodiversity corridor in central Brazil. Among these protected areas lies the Emas National Park at one end, one of the country’s largest grassland reserves; and the Cantão State Park, located at the transition zone of the Cerrado and Amazon biomes. This park represents the largest block of forest along the Araguaia corridor.
The riparian vegetation along the Araguaia River margins allows wildlife movement and contributes to the corridor’s ecological functionality. Therefore, the Araguaia is a key dispersal area for large-range species such as the jaguar. At least 55 wildlife species listed as endangered by the IUCN can be found within the corridor. Taking this into account, the Araguaia River corridor should be a priority area for conservation in central Brazil.
In addition to its rich biological diversity, the Araguaia corridor also harbors a rich cultural diversity and important tourism sites. For example, it is estimated that at least 2 million tourists visit the river for ecotourism, camping, and fishing. This project faces the challenge of protecting an important biodiversity corridor while simultaneously preserving its cultural heritage and socioeconomic status.