Globally, Only 37% of Rivers Longer Than 1,000 km Remain free-flowing, and Just 23% Flow Uninterrupted to the Sea

Environmental News from India:

  • Dam construction is one of the oldest, most preferred tools to manage freshwater for various uses. The practice reached a peak internationally in the 1960s and ’70s, but in recent years dam construction has faced increasing global criticism as the hefty environmental price paid for their benefits piles up.
  • The flows of most major waterways have been impacted by dams globally. Only 37% of rivers longer than 1,000 km (620 mi) remain free-flowing, and just 23% flow uninterrupted to the sea. Natural flows will be altered for 93% of river volume worldwide by 2030 if all planned and ongoing hydropower construction goes ahead.
  • This global fragmentation of rivers has led to severe impacts. Dams have contributed to an 84% average decline in freshwater wildlife population sizes since 1970. More than a quarter of Earth’s land-to-ocean sediment flux is trapped behind dams. Dams also impact Earth’s climate in complex ways via modification of the carbon cycle.
  • But dams are needed for energy, agriculture and drinking water, and are an inevitable part of our future. Lessons on how to balance their benefits against the environmental harm they do are already available to us: removing some existing dams, for example, and not building others.

Stephen Midzi, the biodiversity conservation manager of South Africa’s iconic Kruger National Park, thinks it is a good thing to allow rivers to be what rivers should be. Midzi is an advocate for free-flowing streams that offer unfettered connectivity for aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity. But he also wants you to know that he’s not an “anti-dam person.”

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Source: Mongabay

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