Brazil, the world’s fifth largest country with 5.7 per cent of its land area, contains 13.7 per cent of the available fresh water of the planet.
Springs in Brazil are classified as Permanent Protections Areas (PPAs) and headwaters are important river basin conservation areas.
But WWF maintains that despite these protections headwaters are suffering increasing levels of degradation from land misuse and deforestation. Silting and increasing impermeability of soils in key recharge areas are affecting the health of many springs.
“These areas need further attention by governments and society,” said Hamú. “Acceptable water quality elsewhere depends on the health of the headwaters.”
A model draft bill is available on WWF-Brazil site and Brazilians are being encouraged to adapt it locally and promote it with local governments and city councils in order to turn it into a bill. The idea is that local governments gives incentives to communities taking on the responsibility of protecting springs in their area.
It is based on the successful programme “Adopt a spring” by the Federal District Government and supported by WWF-Brazil. Today, over 140 springs in the Federal District are protected by “adopters”, with support and supervision of the local Government.
The Brazil Springs Movement is part of the HSBC Climate Partnership global initiative, a US$ 100 million environmental programme developed to respond to the urgent threats caused by climate change worldwide.
Among other initiatives, WWF-Brazil plans to bring the movement into the Pantanal region, one of the world’s largest wetland areas and richest biodiversity reserves. This area, a part of which lies in Cerrado, is under heavy pressure from agriculture.
In Brasilia, the programme is supporting the Save the Urubu Creek project, which aims at mobilizing the community to protect its water resources.
“We want people to think about water in an holistic – not only on utilitarian way”, explained Carlos Alberto Scaramuzza, director of WWF-Brazil’s conservation and thematic programmes.