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Sustainable Strategies for the Plata Basin: AAAS Teams Up With South American Scientists
On the northeastern coast of Argentina, the great Plata River feeds a lush tidal plain where drying winds called zondas meet cold ocean currents. Spanning parts of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, the sprawling Plata Basin is the fifth largest in the world. Here, lush natural resources make the Plata Basin one of the world ’s largest food producers. The Plata Basin thus drives much of the economy throughout South America.
How can this vast natural resource--which provides a central waterway for South American industry and agriculture--be sustained over the longer term?
Sustaining strategies for the Plata Basin will be the focus of an international workshop sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
The event, set for 8-10 April 2002, will bring together representatives of industry, academia, government and science. Reporters are encouraged to attend the event at the Regente Palace Hotel, Suipacha 964, Buenos Aires, Argentina. The event will kick off with welcoming remarks by CONICET Director Eduardo Charreau at 8:45 a.m. on Monday, 8 April.
Participants at the AAAS workshop will explore how best to integrate and apply knowledge about agricultural impacts to the Plata Basin environment. Attendees will also explore the use of specific tools, such as digital maps, geographic information systems, remote sensing, and spatially explicit models, to guide sustainable agriculture and environmental protection efforts.
“AAAS has a chance to make a valuable contribution to science in South America, by facilitating international cooperation that cuts across sectors and disciplines,” said Marina Ratchford, AAAS project director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “This is especially important now, when countries in the region are going through difficult economic times.”
Currently, the Inter-governmental Commission for the Plata Basin (CIC), with funding from UN agencies, OAS and the World Bank, are carrying out initiatives in this area. Several other existing projects include studying and mapping climate variability, as well as land-use change and hydrology in the Basin. The AAAS seeks to help integrate and complement these existing activities.
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay all share the Plata Basin, connected by the Paraguay-Panama and Uruguay river systems. It is a region of immense economic and ecological potential, with a high level of biodiversity and hydrological and energy resources. But, recent agrarian expansions and agricultural development has become a potential threat to the ecosystem.
The AAAS Ecosystem Dynamics and Essential Human Needs (EDEHN) program has targeted four watershed regions for an integrated multi-disciplinary approach to environmental management—the Plata Basin region, the Kola Peninsula in Russia, the Mekong River in Asia and the Niger Delta in Africa.
This three-day workshop is funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Organization. The workshop will serve as a springboard to a series of AAAS projects over the next five to 10 years.
Since 1974, the AAAS Latin American and Caribbean Project (LAC) has promoted scientific cooperation in the Americas by establishing links with the scientific community in the region and working from self-identified needs of those communities.