Containing 60% of the world's remaining tropical rainforests, the Amazon Basin is an area of immense biodiversity. Known as the "lungs of the planet," the Amazon plays a critical role in regulating the climate not only of South America, but also of the world as a whole. The region is inhabited by nearly 30 million people, including thousands of indigenous tribes and river bank communities whose lives depend directly on the waters of the Amazon River and its tributaries.
Increasingly, the Amazon Basin is being targeted for large dam projects. More than 60 large dams are being planned for the Brazilian Amazon, and neighboring countries Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia are planning dozens of dams of their own. If built, these projects would dramatically affect the Amazon's fragile web of aquatic and terrestrial life, as well as displacing tens of thousands of indigenous and river bank communities.
This site was developed by Fundación Proteger, International Rivers, and ECOA, to provide a database on dams in operation, under construction or planned for the region. It presents technical and economic data about the projects and includes information about their social and environmental impacts. The database only includes dams that have either had a feasibility study started, or in which there are clear indications of a government's intentions to move forward with the project.
The data in this database generally come from official sources such as governments and the hydropower industry. However, this information is frequently disputed by researchers and civil society organizations. When such differences are found, the site also features data from non-official sources, providing credit to the source of the information.
In most cases, the map with the location of the hydropower project is based on the exact coordinates of the dam or its respective reservoir. When this information is not available, the point indicated is an approximation based on geographical references of the project.
The cost of each project is presented in U.S. dollars. In cases where the original estimate was issued by governments and industry in local currency, the site automatically performs the currency conversion based on the current exchange rate.
There are several projects listed that directly impact indigenous groups. When the official information mentions only the Indigenous Territory to be affected, and no further details about the tribes, the site seeks to list, based on parallel surveys, all the different ethnic groups living in the area.
"Dams in Amazônia" also includes dams in the basin of the Araguaia and Tocantins rivers, which empty near the mouth of the Amazon and are considered by many as part of the Amazon Basin. We also include dams in the basin of the Orinoco river, located in Colombia and Venezuela.
Technical, economic and social parameters related to dams often undergo changes during the planning process. In light of this, "Dams in Amazonia" takes constant efforts to expand research and update content.