River ecosystems support a wide range of unique animal and plant species and healthy rivers can provide immense benefits to communities, including food production and clean drinking water. However, in much of the world, widespread dam development has blocked fish migrations and changed river flow patterns—the rise and fall of water that orchestrates nearly all aspects of river life — degrading the vitality of river communities and ecosystems alike.
Today, a new wave of dam development—driven largely by the demand for energy that hydropower dams can provide—threatens to inflict huge impacts on regions characterized by high aquatic biodiversity and large populations who depend upon healthy rivers. This challenge is global, urgent, and complex. To meet it The Nature Conservancy and partners are advancing a strategy called ―Hydropower by Design.
Through Hydropower by Design, we are integrating decades of experience in conservation planning and river restoration to tackle the challenge at the only scale capable of producing solutions: the entire system of dam planning, development and operation must be made more sustainable.