WWF Awarded Grant to Study Negative Impacts of Damming Amazon Tributary

Washington, D.C. - The Blue Moon Fund recently awarded WWF a grant to ensure that construction of the Madeira dams in the Amazon River basin does not permanently harm the region's biodiversity, economic potential and local communities. Established in 2002, the Blue Moon Fund supports nonprofit organizations working to build a sustainable balance between humans and nature.

The Madeira River is the largest tributary of the Amazon, carrying nearly half of its sediment load and providing important nutrients and habitat for plants and animals downstream. The Madeira's waters also sustain tens of thousands of people - including 40 indigenous groups - who depend on the river's biologically diverse and economically valuable fisheries for food and livelihoods.

The future of this important Amazon tributary, its wildlife and its people is in question. To substantially increase its hydroelectric capacity, the Brazilian government is planning to build two large dams - and possibly a third in collaboration with the Bolivian government. Although these dams would provide a short-term solution to Brazil's growing energy crisis, as currently planned their environmental and social impacts would be felt throughout the entire Amazon River basin for years to come. By altering the flow of the Madeira River, the proposed dams would disrupt sedimentation patterns, reduce fish biodiversity and migration and create dramatic livelihood, social and health problems for communities that rely on the river.

WWF will provide a check against this narrowly planned infrastructure project. With the support of the Blue Moon Fund, we will engage local communities and others who depend on the river to advocate for better social and environmental practices and the conservation of the Amazon's rich freshwater biodiversity.