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Roads, dams and other development in the Amazon

As the once-isolated Amazon region opens up to more international trade and economic growth, there’s been an increase in environmental pressures as well as benefits and opportunities. It’s vital that planning of new ports, roads and hydroelectric plants respects the rainforest and the rights of local people.

We don’t want to hold back the Amazon region’s economic development. But we do want to minimise the negative impacts on the rainforest - its flora, fauna and people.

The paving of the interoceanica highway in Peru is just one of many current infrastructure developments in the Amazon region.

Why we’re involved

Amazon governments are currently supporting proposals for hundreds of infrastructure schemes across the Amazon region - from building large roads, pipelines, ports and airports, to dams for hydroelectricity and opening rivers up for commercial traffic.

New roads and other developments open up previously inaccessible forest areas. In the past, that’s often led to increased illegal logging and more forest being cleared for cattle ranching or to grow soya.

New developments also affect communities who live in the forest and depend on its natural resources for their livelihoods. For example building dams has significant impacts on river flows and impedes the movement and migration of freshwater species such as river dolphins and catfish. It also has a big impact on the many local people whose way of life depends on fresh water.

How we’re helping

We’re using our influence to make sure the environmental and social impact of new development is kept to a minimum. We’re working with the people behind new roads and other infrastructure, including governments, planners and investors.

Roads

We’re making sure that a new road in southern Colombia won’t destroy the fragile rainforest around it.

The Inter-American Development Bank recently approved a loan towards constructing a new section of the Pasto-Mocoa road. We made sure that the first part of the loan would include funding to limit the environmental impact.

The Cana Brava Dam, near Minacu, Brazil

Hydropower and dams

In Bolivia and Brazil we’re supporting work to reduce the impact of large dams in the Madeira River (a major tributary of the Amazon) on communities upstream and downstream.

We’re also influencing government approaches to hydropower development - helping them develop hydropower plans and strategies that include social and environmental considerations along with economic ones.

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Related links

Downloads

Active Citizens, Accountable Governments (Latin America DFID PPA)

Colombia - The Road to Development

Colombia - The Road to Development (Spanish version)

Sustainable Hydropower in the Amazon