China-funded Dam could Disrupt Key Argentine Glaciers and Biodiversity

Environmental News from South America: 

  • Two dams are being built on the 380-kilometer (236-mile) Santa Cruz River in Argentina’s Patagonia, threatening glacier movements and endemic wildlife that rely on the surrounding wetlands.
  • Several Indigenous Mapuche communities, who consider the area to be important to their cultural heritage, say officials failed to consult with them before starting the project.
  • Despite protests, lawsuits, and court orders to pause construction, work on the complex, part of the China-funded Belt and Road Initiative, has continued.

A hydroelectric dam complex in southern Argentina, one of the country’s largest energy projects, is facing backlash from conservationists and Indigenous communities who are worried about its impact on the surrounding glaciers.

The mega project, which includes the Néstor Kirchner and Jorge Cepernic dams, is expected to supply around 5% of Argentina’s national energy needs. But it may also flood vital wetlands, disrupt the trajectory of some of the world’s largest glaciers found outside of the poles, and destroy ancestral Mapuche land.

Despite protests, lawsuits, and court orders to pause construction so that adequate environmental studies can be carried out, work on the complex has continued, often to the bewilderment of conservationists.

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Source: Mongabay

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