Hydropower plants are one of the biggest threats to freshwater biodiversity in the Amazon; however, scientific evidence of the actual impacts that dams have on biodiversity and local livelihoods is scarce. To address this lack of information, the Bolivian Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Environment and Water, with the support of WWF, developed a system to monitor the impacts of the Jirau and Santo Antonio hydropower on the Madera River in Brazil on freshwater ecosystems in Bolivia. The Madera Basin is the largest tributary of the Amazon Basin in Bolivia.
As a first step in the implementation of this system, WWF, NGOs and the Foreign Affairs Ministry collaborated on the development of a set of baselines intended to establish indicators for the monitoring system. This documented titled “Baseline of Water Ecosystems and Resources in the Bolivian Amazon” was formally presented in October by the Bolivian government and is part of a larger hydropower mitigation program.
The baseline and monitoring system will be integrated into a toolbox to be developed by the Living Amazon Initiative and country offices in the region over the course of 2016. WWF Bolivia expects the lessons from this process to scale up to contribute to the network´s effort to generate scientific evidence of the impacts of dams. Currently, NGO partners are implementing the monitoring system, ensuring that the right data is collected, to help guide strategic decisions.
This initiative is part of WWF Bolivia’s Freshwater and Green Hydropower Strategy.
Funding from WWF UK and WWF Netherlands has been decisive to achieve these important results, as well as their active involvement in technical discussions and recommendations.