The Salween River Basin

Friday, May 25, 2012

Dam Cascades Threaten Biological and Cultural Diversity

From its headwaters in the Tibetan Plateau to its estuary in Burma, the Salween River supports over ten million people. For many decades, it was the longest free-flowing river in Southeast Asia. It supports a UNESCO World Heritage Site and sustains rich fisheries and farmlands central to the lives of many indigenous communities living along its banks.


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However, large dam cascades in China and Burma are being planned in complete secrecy, with no participation from affected communities and no analysis of the cumulative impacts or seismic risks of these projects. China has plans to build a 13-dam cascade on the river upstream in Tibet and Yunnan. Burma and Thailand are pushing seven dams and a water diversion project for the lower Salween, despite the ongoing conflicts near the dam sites between the Burmese army and ethnic groups in Karenni, Karen and Shan states.

Since 2004, communities in China, Burma and Thailand have voiced strong opposition to dam construction on the Salween. Better options exist that meet water and energy needs without sacrificing one of the last wild rivers of Asia.

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