Amazon Dams Keep the Lights On But Could Hurt Fish, Forests
A surge in hydroelectric power could displace the iconic region’s indigenous peoples and resources.
When Asháninka Indian leader Ruth Buendía realized that a hydroelectric dam on the Amazon's Ene River would displace thousands of her people, she vowed to fight it. The project, she argued, would bring more hardship to families—including her own—already uprooted by political violence.
Leaders in the Peruvian communities along the river were divided over the plan, with some looking forward to high-paying construction jobs. But Buendía stood her ground.
Plans for that dam were eventually suspended. But about 150 other dams already exist in the Amazon basin, with other controversial projects underway and hundreds more planned.
Scientists worry that dams will harm the Amazon’s legendary biodiversity by blocking fish-spawning runs, reducing the flow of vital soil nutrients, and clearing forests. Reservoirs behind the