By Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay
More than 150 new dams planned across the Amazon basin could significantly disrupt the ecological connectivity of the Amazon River to the Andes with substantial impacts for fish populations, nutrient cycling, and the health of Earth’s largest rainforest, warns a comprehensive study published in the journal PLoS ONE.
Scouring public data and submitting information requests to governments, researchers Matt Finer of Save America’s Forests and Clinton Jenkins of North Carolina State University documented plans for new dams in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. They found that 40 percent of the projects are already in advanced planning stages and more than half would be large dams over 100 megawatts. 60 percent of the dams “would cause the first major break in connectivity between protected Andean headwaters and the lowland Amazon”, while more than 80 percent “would drive deforestation due to new roads, transmission lines, or inundation.”
“These results are quite troubling given the critical link between the Andes Mountains and the Amazonian floodplain,” said lead author Finer in a statement. “There appears to be no strategic planning regarding possible consequences to the disruption of an ecological connection that has existed for millions of years.”