The Amazon Basin, an immense region nearly the size of the continental United States, is home to 60% of the planet’s remaining tropical rainforests and immense biodiversity. New research confirms the critical role that this unique biome plays in regulating the climate of South America and beyond.

Roughly 83% of the Amazon rainforest is still intact, and a principal factor in the Amazon’s survival has been its remoteness. But large-scale hydroelectric dams, industrial waterways (hidrovias), and associated mining, logging and agribusiness threaten to destroy this vital ecosystem.

Three Munduruku leaders standing together at a protest.
Munduruku leaders in Paris protesting at the 2019 World Hydropower Congress | Photo by Todd Southgate

A powerful alliance of state energy bureaucracies, politicians and large private dam-building corporations are spearheading the proposed transformation of the Amazon’s greatest tributaries into a series of slack-water reservoirs.

The Amazon is at a tipping point. Rampant deforestation, rising temperatures and large dams are dramatically altering the landscape, leading to increased fires and less precipitation, which is already having major impacts across the continent. Many indigenous people and others are risking their lives to defend the Amazon’s fragile web of aquatic and terrestrial life, and violent retribution against them is only increasing. Tens of thousands of indigenous and riverine people face displacement or worse. We must immediately halt the destruction to have any chance of saving this key part of the continent’s hydrological cycle.

Our Work in the Amazon

International Rivers works with threatened communities, indigenous peoples, social movements, NGOs, independent researchers and other partners to fight destructive dams and other problematic projects planned for the Amazon, while supporting alternative strategies to meet legitimate energy needs and promoting the permanent protection of the region’s rivers, communities and livelihoods.

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