Poorly planned infrastructure

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New roads are built and paved in the Amazon every day, providing access to previously remote fragile ecosystems
© Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF

Roads, energy, rivers and forests

Transportation and energy infrastructure are essential for national and regional development, but when poorly planned, the negative impacts can exceed the short-term benefits.

In the Amazon, the building of new roads or improvement of existing roads has facilitated uncontrolled migration to otherwise inaccessible areas with the result of increased land-grabbing, deforestation, and expansion of unsustainable extractive activities. Dam construction entails a major disruption to river connectivity through fragmentation and altering the natural flow patterns of water, sediments and nutrients. It also interferes with the ranges of aquatic species, including subsistence and commercial fisheries.

Dams often require the creation of large reservoirs which cause flooding - sometimes of areas of natural, cultural and economic importance - and displacement of original inhabitants. The disruption caused to flooding patterns downstream of dams affectsthe natural productivity of floodplains. Both IIRSA (Initiative for the Regional Integration of Infrastructure in South America) and the Brazilian Growth Acceleration Plan envision the construction of numerous large dams, including in some of the main tributaries of the Amazon River that, until recently, have never been dammed.

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