Image of the Day: Patagonia’s Pristine Wild Rivers Threatened by Dams

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The Aysén region of Chilean Patagonia is threatened by a plan to build five dams on the Baker and the Pascua rivers – two of the wildest most pristine rivers on the planet. The Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition (Rave), an initiative of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP), set up to address the challenges of modern conservation, visited the area in February this year to assess what impact the dams would have on the surrounding area and its way of life.

The expedition team included the Pulitzer prize winner and National Geographic photographer Jack Dykinga and twice World Press winner and Prince's Rainforest Project award winner Daniel Beltra.

The three dams on the Pascua River (below) would create artificial lakes flooding more than 1,600 hectares (about 4,000 acres). Flooded lands would include some of the world’s rarest forest types, including the critically endangered plants. Other rare species that would be harmed by the Pascua dams include the torrent duck and the white-bellied seedsnipe.

The water supplying 80 per cent of the world's population is exposed to "high levels of threat," according to a study that surveys the status of rivers throughout the world, and looks at their effects on both humans and the ecosystem at large.

Writing in this week's Nature (vol 467, p 555), Charles Vorosmarty of the City College of New York and colleagues presented data on factors affecting water security, from dams that reduce river flow in Patagonia, for example, to the pollution and destruction of wetlands.

They produced two maps showing the levels of threat to humans and to ecosystems that rely on rivers. The maps are virtually identical, with the continental US, Europe and south-east Asia facing the greatest threats, to both humans and the wider ecosystem.

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Via The Guardian

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