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In first-ever global assessment, scientists identify over 500 new dams planned within protected areas August 03,2020   |  Source: WWF

More than 500 dams are planned or under construction within protected areas, according to a new study published in Conservation Letters. These findings raise red flags as dams can have detrimental impacts on livelihoods of local communities such as fishing and floodplain farming, species movements, sediment flows to downstream deltas and floodplains, and other critical river functions. Thirty-three percent of all planned hydropower in the EU is in protected areas. For example, there are two hydropower projects threatening Natura 2000 sites in Romania: one in Defileul Jiului National Park and the other in Răstolița.

“Rivers are the lifeblood of ecosystems. Any policy that aims to conserve nature must prioritise the free flow of rivers,” said Michele Thieme, lead author of the study and lead freshwater scientist at World Wildlife Fund (WWF). “Protected areas are a fundamental strategy for conserving biodiversity and services to people, but their design and management to protect freshwater ecosystems must be improved.”

Freshwater biodiversity is declining dramatically. Populations of freshwater vertebrates (mammals, wetland birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish) have seen an 83% decline between 1970 and 2014. One of the primary drivers of this decline are dams and


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