The myriad rivers that together form the La Plata Basin are essential for the health of the wetland area and its people. They are the natural habitat of countless species. They are a source of food and water for drinking, washing and irrigation. They are a means of travel for thousands of riverine communities and play a central role in local culture, beliefs and practices. Protecting the health and free flow of the region’s rivers is crucial for the survival of the La Plata Basin ecosystem and the people who depend on it.
The threat of dams and canals
Plans for hydropower dams, canals and other infrastructure projects are putting the health of the La Plata Basin and its people in severe danger. Dams are being planned in many tributaries of the Paraguay and Paraná rivers, from upstream areas in Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil to downstream areas in Argentina. Dams would (and already do) seriously impact the water levels of the rivers and the ability of fish and other animal species to migrate through the river system, which in turn threatens the livelihoods of local communities.
Plans for a waterway that would cut straight through the Pantanal all the way down to mouth of the Rio de La Plata, known as the Hidrovía Paraguay-Parana, poses a grave threat to the free flow of the region’s rivers and the health of the wetlands. Canalisation of large parts of the river, removal of rocky beds and dredging of deeper fairways all impact local ecosystems and alternate the flow of the river for good. The sole aim of the waterway is to expedite transport of agro-commodities, such as soy and timber, which are destined for export. Any benefits that come of the project would bypass local communities.
Information, mobilisation and alternative solutions
The Wetlands without Borders programme draws attention to these threats and increases awareness of the economic and social importance of free-flowing rivers. We work with local organisations and communities to ensure they are informed about these developments and their rights to oppose them. Enhancing civic participation is a key focus of the programme. It is crucial that the voice of local communities be heard and considered in decision-making processes.
Demonstrating how free-flowing rivers and a healthy river system contribute to thriving local economies is another goal of the programme. We work to promote agroecology and biocultural corridors throughout the region.
One of the threats to the free flow of the rivers of the La Plata Basin is the Hidrovía Paraguay-Paraná.
Protecting the health and free flow of the region’s rivers is crucial for the survival of the La Plata Basin ecosystem and the people who depend on it.