Andes dams twice as numerous as thought are fragmenting the Amazon

first_imgAmazon Biodiversity, Amazon Conservation, Amazon Dams, Amazon Destruction, Amazon People, Biodiversity Hotspots, Controversial, Dams, Deforestation, Drivers Of Deforestation, electricity, Energy, Energy Politics, Environment, Environmental Law, Environmental Politics, Flooding, Food Crisis, food security, forest degradation, Forest Destruction, Forest Loss, Forests, Green, Hydroelectric Power, Hydropower, Infrastructure, Land Use Change, Law, Monitoring, Rainforest Deforestation, Rainforest Destruction, Rainforests, Regulations, Research, Rivers, satellite data, Satellite Imagery, Saving The Amazon, Sedimentation, Threats To The Amazon, Tropical Deforestation Article published by Glenn Scherer Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredcenter_img A new study identified 142 dams currently in operation or under construction in the Andes headwaters of the Amazon, twice the number previously estimated. An additional 160 are in the planning stages.If proposed Andes dams go ahead, sediment transport to the Amazon floodplains could cease, blocking freshwater fish migratory routes, disrupting flow and flood regimes, and threatening food security for downstream communities, impacting up to 30 million people.Most dams to date are on the tributary networks of Andean river main stems. But new dams are planned for five out of eight major Andean Amazon main stems, bringing connectivity reductions on the Marañón, Ucayali and Beni rivers of more than 50 percent; and on the Madre de Dios and Mamoré rivers of over 35 percent.Researchers conclude that proposed dams should be required to complete cumulative effects assessments at a basin-wide scale, and account for synergistic impacts of existing dams, utilizing the UN Watercourses Convention as a legal basis for international cooperation for sustainable water management between Amazon nations. The Marañón River flows though the Peruvian Andes, and is a major Amazon River tributary. The Peruvian government is planning to build several major dams on the river, though the projects are fiercely opposed by many local riverine communities. Photo by Gato Montes on Wikimedia CC-BY 3.0The scale of hydroelectric development in the Andean Amazon is far more extensive than previously thought, with numerous headwater dams fragmenting river habitats, disrupting natural systems, and affecting the lives and livelihoods of 30 million downstream Amazon basin inhabitants, according to a new study published in Science Advances.If proposed dams in the region go ahead, sediment transport from the Andes to the Amazon floodplains will cease and migratory routes of freshwater fish will be blocked, threatening food security for downstream communities.An international team of researchers led by Elizabeth Anderson, a freshwater ecologist at Florida International University in Miami, used satellite imagery to verify reported locations of existing dams in the Amazonian Andes of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, and to quantify their impact on river connectivity.The scientists identified 142 dams currently in operation or under construction – twice the number previously estimated. This study represents “the most detailed accounting of dams in the Andean region,” says Kirk Winemiller, an aquatic ecologist at Texas A&M University, who was not involved in the study. The team also included the impact of proposed dams in their model – an additional 160 projects – and found that they would further reduce connectivity on five out of eight major Andean rivers that flow into the Amazon basin, with the Napo, Marañón, Ucayali, Beni, and Mamoré most effected.Aerial view of the Rio Solimóes flowing through Amazon rainforest in Brazil. In the rainy season, rivers jump their banks and flow into floodplain forests, enriching soils with vital nutrients. Construction of all the planned Andes dams would prevent those annual flooding events. Photo by Iubasi on Wikimedia CC-BY 2.0Satellite image of a flooded forest in Pará state, Brazil. Dams disrupt flow and flooding regimes vital to aquatic and terrestrial wildlife and plants. Photo courtesy of NASAThe last large-scale survey of hydroelectric development in the Andean Amazon was published in 2012, but hydroelectric development has flourished there in intervening years, and global and regional reports often exclude small hydroelectric projects – estimated to outnumber large hydropower plants 11 to 1, according to another study published last month – meaning that other research using past published data has seriously underestimated the number and impact of dams in the region.Anderson and colleagues looked at rivers and tributaries in seven Andean Amazon basins. They combined satellite imagery with government planning and energy authority records, and calculated dam impacts using the Dendritic Connectivity Index – a measure of how passable each stretch of river is for fish. They found that the tributary networks supplying the Marañón and Ucayali rivers in Peru (important Amazon River headwater streams) have already lost 20 percent of their original connectivity.The Andes represents only a tiny fraction of the Amazon basin, but it exerts a disproportionate effect on ecological processes downstream – influencing fish migration and transporting nutrient-rich sediments all the way to the vast floodplains of Brazil and to the Amazon River estuary.The problem arises because most hydroelectric projects in the Andes Amazon store or divert water for later energy generation, rather than allowing normal river flow to generate electricity continuously. As a result, headwaters dams trap up to 100 percent of the sediments previously carried by the streams, Anderson explains.A Shawi fisherman on the Rio Paranapura. The new study raises an alarm over the number of existing, under construction and proposed dams in the Andean Amazon, which would seriously diminish connectivity and impact fisheries. Photo by Alvaro Del CampoAnother problem: the dams disrupt the seasonal cycle of flooding in the Amazon basin, reducing or preventing forest inundation, and influencing migration, mating and feeding patterns, as well as social behaviors of both aquatic and terrestrial animals. Fragmentation of the Andes headwaters has “huge ramifications for not only the rivers of the Andean region of the Amazon, but also for the ecology of the entire Amazon basin,” says Winemiller.Most hydropower development to date has affected the tributary networks of Andean Amazon river main stems, but this may be about to change. Dams are currently planned for the main stems of five out of eight major Andean Amazon rivers. Anderson’s team warns that these projects could result in connectivity reductions on the Marañón, Ucayali, and Beni rivers of more than 50 percent, with the Madre de Dios and Mamoré rivers suffering connectivity decreases of over 35 percent.That loss in aquatic connectivity could have a big impact on the biodiversity of Amazon fisheries. The team compared their data on river connectivity with a list of freshwater fish species collated from the published literature by the Amazon Fish Project, and found that sites greater than 500 meters above sea level in the Andean Amazon are home to 671 species of freshwater fish – the first published estimate for the Andean headwaters.Of the four freshwater ecoregions defined for the Andean Amazon, the Amazonas High Andes – spanning Bolivia, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador – has experienced the most intense hydropower development so far, and is also the site of the greatest number of proposed dams. However, the region is likewise home to hundreds of fish species, nearly 40 percent of which are thought to be unique to the region.The fast-flowing waters of the Topo River in Ecuador. Many Andes fish species are narrowly adapted to inhabit rapids at specific altitudes. Dams would wreak havoc on connectivity and impact fish and fisheries in negative ways. Photo by Elizabeth AndersonThese fish species are specially adapted to steep mountain rapids, with the Amazonas High Andes harboring distinctive collections of species at different elevations. “It is not uncommon for a fish species to just be found in a small part of one basin, and nowhere else,” says Anderson.Others migrate thousands of miles to spawn or feed. The goliath catfish (Brachyplatystoma sp.), for example, makes the longest freshwater migration in the world, covering almost the entire length of the Amazon River. Proposed tributary and main stem dams could block crucial migration routes for numerous Amazonian fish, as well as altering environmental cues such as flow pulses and flooding that are used by fish as signals to begin migration.The dams would affect more than fish: the “rhythms of life of many human populations across the Amazon are linked to river flows,” says Anderson, with reduced connectivity set to disrupt seasonal activities like farming, fishing and transporting goods.Cooperative international water resource management will be critical to protecting the natural and human communities that rely heavily for survival on the flow of Andes and Amazon basin rivers, says Anderson. The new study calls for transboundary assessments of the physical, chemical and biological impacts of Andean dams on the Amazon region, echoing concerns expressed by scientists and environmentalists over hydropower development globally.“Proposed dams should be required to complete cumulative effects assessments at a basin-scale,” Anderson asserts, and take into account synergistic effects of existing dams. If ratified by Amazonian countries, she adds, the UN Watercourses Convention could provide a legal basis for encouraging more sustainable transnational water management.Satellite view of the confluence of the Chimore, Ichilo and Mamore rivers in Bolivia. Scientists are urging Amazon nations to take a basin-wide management approach to the planning and construction of dams in the region, especially looking at the cumulative environmental impacts of multiple dams. Photo courtesy of NASAThe newly published study “demonstrates the feasibility of environmental impact assessment at large spatial scales,” says Winemiller, and helps pave the way for similar assessments to be incorporated in large scale, transnational water management planning across South America.However, to achieve that broad goal, Anderson says, government will need to begin seeing free-flowing rivers as vital and worth protecting. “The future of Andes Amazon connectivity depends on a shift in mindset towards recognition of free-flowing rivers as objects of conservation and then ensuring them adequate protection,” she says.The political tide may already be turning. In 2014, Colombia announced plans to fully protect the Bita River, an Orinoco River tributary, and the country’s first conserved river. And despite a wave of environmental deregulation initiatives promoting Amazon development, Brazil’s President Michel Temer recently announced a shift in policy away from mega-dams.“I am hopeful that we will soon see other Andean Amazon countries turn towards rivers as a new frontier for ecosystem conservation,” says Anderson.Citation:Anderson, E. P., Jenkins, C. N.; Heilpern, S., Maldonado-Ocampo, J.A, et al, (2018), Fragmentation of Andes-to-Amazon connectivity by hydropower dams, Science Advances, Vol 4, no. 1 easo1642; DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aao1642FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.Members of the La Roya indigenous community paddle at sunset on the Ucayali River. Dams disrupt fisheries, with major detrimental impacts on indigenous lives and livelihoods. The Andes dams could ultimately impact up to 30 million people. Photo credit: CIFOR on Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-NDlast_img

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