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© Zig Koch / WWF
Size matters and the Amazon’s freshwater resources are about as big as it gets.
The Amazon is the world’s largest river basin, with the largest river system, the largest volume of flowing water, and the most diverse and productive freshwater system on the planet.

Consequently, the Amazon watershed also represents one of the world’s most targeted areas for hydroelectric energy expansion, which is on the horizon in all Amazonian countries. Given the massive potential of impact of such growth, the LAI is taking a system-wide approach to examining potential impact to the integrity of the Amazon and its rich biological resources. Left unchecked, hydropower development projects will negatively impact the diversity and integrity of the Amazon’s rich aquatic ecosystems and also will have irreversible effects on the livelihood of traditional populations and Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon region.

The impacts from dams are in the Tapajos river basin (Brazil), in Marañon river basin (Peru) and Madeira river basin (Brasil-Bolívia). The LAI envisions a constructive and participative dialogue between federal governments in the areas of planning, science and technology, energy and environment, industry and civil society for sustainable development and conservation of the river basins in the Amazon.

Download our factsheet to learn more about this key LAI strategy.

many, including reservoir construction and disruption in connectivity of free-flowing rivers that have a “pulse” and, are routes for migratory species. When planning energy, there is a need to consider the cumulative impacts of hydropower plants in basin scale, incorporating conservation planning into government processes.

To that end, WWF has developed a decision-support system to encourage and enable a dialogue that factors conservation of natural resources into the complex decision-making process involved in planning hydropower projects. This decision-support system provides decision-makers with tools to help guide important considerations such as cumulative impacts of dam construction.

WWF is applying its approach via pilot cases 

The case of Tapajos

Hydroelectric power plants in the Amazon: is dialogue possible? The case of Tapajos. 
© WWF Living Amazon Initiative