The Year in Review: World River News in Brief

Installing solar panels
From March 2012 World Rivers ReviewIt was the best of times, it was the worst of times …. 2011 saw dams cancelled or delayed in Burma, Laos and Central America; the decommissioning of a few large dams in the US, and strong growth in true renewables in many parts of the world. But 2011 also ushered in huge dam plans in China, Turkey and Ethiopia; and saw new dams proposed or ready to start construction on too many rivers around the globe. As our friends in Mozambique say, “A luta continua!” The struggle continues… Herewith, the year’s high- and low-lights. GlobalInstalling solar panel

A Current of Hope Runs Through Patagonia

From March 2012 World Rivers Review Although things have quieted down in Chile since the HidroAysén dams’ EIA was approved last May, the five large dams on the Baker and Pascua rivers in Patagonia are far from a done deal. Sustained protests against HidroAysén around the country in the middle of last year inspired the well-publicized student protests that have been ongoing since then. These two movements together have created the biggest social unrest in Chile since the fall of the dictatorship of General Pinochet in 1990, and mark the beginning to the first widespread environmental movem

Dam Greenwashing Flows at World Water Forum

From March 2012 World Rivers Review“Sustainability” Tool Protects Dam Builders, Not Rivers and Rights The stated goal of this year’s World Water Forum – the world’s largest meeting devoted to water – is to create solutions to the water, energy, and food challenges presented by climate change and economic growth. However, some of the “solutions” being presented will do more to protect business-as-usual interests rather than spark innovative approaches to tackling our most pressing water-related problems. The sixth World Water Forum (this year in Marseille, France from March 1

Grand Inga: Will Africa’s Mega Dam Have Mega Impacts?

Grand Inga would dam the Congo River
Monday, March 5, 2012
From March 2012 World Rivers Review Grand Inga would dam the Congo River Central Africa’s Congo River holds more hydropower potential than any other African river, and the Grand Inga Dam is a grandiose proposal to tap it. Project proponents predict electricity generation more than twice that of China’s Three Gorges. In November, the South African and DR Congo governments signed an agreement to develop the dam. But its outsized price tag (estimated at $80bn) presents a huge roadblock. In February, the $5.2 bn Inga III Dam, also proposed for the Congo, lost its main sponsor in part over p

French Dam Removal Opens Way for Atlantic Salmon

The Poutès Dam has devastated salmon runs.
Monday, March 5, 2012
From March 2012 World Rivers ReviewThe Poutès Dam has devastated salmon runs. The Allier, main tributary of the river Loire, is among the last wild rivers in Europe. The river and its watershed shelter extraordinary fauna and flora due to the geologic complexity of the mountainous Massif-Central through which it flows. An indispensable part of the river’s treasure includes wild Atlantic salmon, a unique symbol and store of genetic diversity that will provide a base from which to restore diminishing salmon runs in other major rivers of Western Europe. In the 20th century, Atlantic salmo

Paddling Upstream

From March 2012 World Rivers ReviewEvery day I encounter stories of hope and inspiration from people who are successfully organizing for rivers and their futures as “River People.” Yet the challenge facing the world’s rivers are great, the consequences are stark and the window of opportunity for protecting them is narrowing. As an organization and as part of a global network of civil society movements, International Rivers has been surveying the wild waters ahead: reading the currents, observing the gradient, and doing our best to predict what lies around the next bend in the river.

Canada Looks to Expand Hydro Exports to US

Nistowiak Falls, Churchill River. The river has seen two-thirds of its flow diverted for hydropower.
Monday, March 5, 2012
From March 2012 World Rivers ReviewNistowiak Falls, Churchill River. The river has seen two-thirds of its flow diverted for hydropower. Photo ©: Ross Barclay Canada is a nation of wild, legendary rivers. From east to west to north, dozens of huge, storied rivers empty into the country's identity, flowing through the landscape, history and imagination of the nation. Canada is also a nation of river-tamers. While Canadians revere their waterways, they also dam them. Canada is a “hydro superpower.” Almost 60% of Canada's electricity supply comes from dams, compared to just 16% globally. O

Protests against Vale leave one dead and several injured in Columbia

This past Tuesday, a protest in Cesar, Columbia, culminated in several wounded, the death of a police officer, and burned houses and cars. The struggle was triggered by a stall in the negotiation process on the resettlement of three communities. The residents of these communities have been suffering from the effects of the pollution of Vale's mining activities. Many of them want to negotiate directly with the company and not through a government institution that has proven inefficient. The protests started in Plan Bonito when protestors blocked the railway used for coal transportation. More

China’s Rich Natural Heritage Under Threat

Zhou Dequn
Thursday, December 8, 2011
From December 2011 World Rivers Review Dr. Zhou Dequn is a professor at Kunming University of Science and Technology and guest professor at Virginia Tech. He worked for The Nature Conservancy from 2004- 09 and is currently on the editorial board for the journal Plant Pathology & Quarantine. His expertise includes ecology, fungal diversity and conservation biology. We talked to him about China’s biodiversity crisis. WRR: What is known about biodiversity losses in China's rivers? ZD: Currently, our knowledge is relatively limited and mostly focuses on research and active monitoring of a

Where Rivers Flow, Biodiversity Grows

Kieran Suckling
From December 2011 World Rivers Review Kierán Suckling founded the US-based Center for Biological Diversity in 1989. The highly successful Center uses science, law and creative media to protect species on the brink of extinction, primarily in North America. Kieran talked to us about the Center’s work and the importance of biological diversity to humans and the planet. WRR: What inspired you to focus on biodiversity? KS: When I was at university, I was working on a doctoral dissertation looking at both the extinction of species and the extinction of languages. There’s a clear but not


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