In South America, the mapping and coding of the region’s watersheds carried out under IUCN’s Water and Nature Initiative is changing the way river basins are managed at the local level and should help cross-border conservation efforts.
IUCN’s Regional Office for South America recently launched the ‘Water for Nature’ web portal, which makes South America and Amazon Basin hydrographic unit maps freely available online.
The watershed delineation and coding project began in 2008 with the production of the South American watershed map. Brazil and Peru have officially adopted the standard mapping methods and Ecuador’s National Water Secretariat is looking at using it across the country.
“The portal uses tools and technologies that help the free exchange of and access to geographic information over the Internet,” says IUCN consultant Jorge Villa. “We believe that it is important to provide users with free access to these maps, which can be overlaid with other maps on a global scale,” he added.
“Between 60% and 80% of South America is covered by shared watersheds. We are certain that having a standard delineation and coding system for hydrographic units will help conserve cross-boundary watersheds,” says IUCN Water Coordinator Mario Aguirre.
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