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Building 428 Hydroelectric Dams In Amazon Basin Spells Disaster For Nature & Environment, Scientists Warn

First Posted: Jun 15, 2017 07:05 AM EDT

Brazil’s Amazon river basin might be in for irreversible damage that would also have an extreme effect on the environment if a proposed plan goes ahead. There is a plan to build 428 hydroelectric dams in the Amazon basin, which is three times the current 140 dams already built or under construction in the region.

According to Seeker, researchers have warned that the extensive network of dams would devastate the complex river system and the environment, endanger the lives of indigenous species in the Amazon and even lead to disruption in the regional weather. The Amazon river basin is the most extensive and important network of rivers on Earth that preserves the highest concentration of biodiversity. It covers over 6 million square kilometers and encompasses nine countries.

The basin, however, is increasingly being targeted as a key area for the construction of hydroelectric dams. Building a high network of dams on Amazon’s enormous tributaries, in many cases, dozens of times, can stop nutrients that feed downstream ecosystems, flood massive tracts of forest and threaten both terrestrial and aquatic wildlife.

A research team introduced the Dam Environmental Vulnerability Index (DEVI) in a paper in the journal Nature to measure the effect of these future dams. A vast range of criteria was considered to help the researchers decide which plans could be put into effect.

"We have to put the risks of the table and change the way people are looking at the problem," lead author Professor Edgardo Latrubesse said. "We are massively destroying our natural resources, and time urges us to find some rational alternatives for preservation and sustainable development."

Tech Times reported that the researchers indicated that ultimately, the people living in the countries encompassed by the Amazon river basin would have to take a call on whether building dams for hydroelectric power will be worth the price of causing unimaginable damage to the river system. According to the study authors, if the inhabitants decide within the context of a comprehensive understanding of the system, then the benefits of the rivers to wildlife and humans could be conserved.

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