[Taxacom] The Chilean HidroAysen dam project in the heart of the Valdivian Temperate Forests

Elizabeth Arias-Bohart etarias.bohart at berkeley.edu
Wed May 18 14:00:10 CDT 2011

	The Valdivian forests despite their uniqueness, outstanding importance, and global recognition continue to become, dramatically in the very near future, not only fragmented but wiped off our planet. The current trajectory of the recently approved HidroAysen project of  $3.2 billion envisages 5 dams to tap the Baker and Pascua rivers in Patagonia, will not only lead to the eventual total loss of forests, and the species they support, but will also lose an invaluable piece of the world’s biotic and evolutionary history.

This ecoregion is considered highly vulnerable and globally outstanding in terms of biological distinctiveness, and it has been placed as highest priority for conservation, It is also defined as an ecoregion of global importance by the World Wildlife International, Conservation International, World Bank and Bird Life International. Its loss would be a significant loss to global biodiversity and to our understanding of it.

The HidroAysen dam project will encompass an area of over 7,000 ha of national parks, reserves and pristine wild areas of Valdivian temperate rain forests. Amazingly enough instead of studying, protecting and conserving this unique ecosystem, it will be fragmented, devastated and exterminated by the building of 5 dams followed by the construction of a 2,300 kilometer transmission line which, with the giant machinery and dam work, will devastate life in several kilometers around vast sectors of pristine forests never surveyed before and thus no record of its plant and animal biota or future for it.  This project will also go through 5 native Indian Mapuche communities that have land and live in this area: the Chilean government has been in dispute with these native people over land ownership for several decades.

In addition, the transmission lines, with towers 70 m high (like a building of 20 floors), each 400 m wide, analysts say, will fragment at least 6 national parks, 11 national reserves, 32 wild private areas. The line of 2,300 km length and 100 m wide will require over 23,000 ha to be deforested to carry in the giant machinery for the construction.  All the machinery that will travel will also go through a way of destruction besides the inundation of areas smashing and exterminating life that took millions of years to evolve to what it is now. To build a separate area and plant native forests, as a remedy or consolation prize will never reproduce the complex ecosystems and endemic flora and fauna that exist today in the area that is planned for destruction and construction of the new dams.  See it at http://www.hidroaysen.cl/site/mitigacion.html 

This project will not alleviate poverty and only companies that required energy will benefit from this project, not the poor and not most Chilean citizens. Why they think and use other forms of energy? Chile has several other ways to obtain energy instead of sacrificing the forests and the Indian Mapuche communities.

In our research project, supported by the USA National Science Foundation DEB-0445413 (to Arias & Will), allowed us to survey the coastal Valdivian forests and brought to scientific knowledge over 200 new genera and hundreds of new beetle and other arthropod species: see it at  www.coleopterosdechile.cl           

 There are over 299 plant species that will vanish and several of them are endemic to this ecoregion, there are no records or catalog for animal species or arthropod diversity because this ecoregion has never been surveyed for neither beetles or spiders or any other arthropods.

On another important point, none of the project authorities are biologists and soon after the first phase of the project was approved, many Chilean citizens in several major as well as other cities went into the street screaming and protesting for justice for the defenseless forests. In addition, the commissioners that voted in favor for this project were kept indoors for their own safety as people threw rocks and battled police with water cannons and tear gas. Similar scenes occurred in the Chilean capital of Santiago as well. 

Why the President has approved such atrocity?

No studies on biodiversity of biota have ever been conducted in the area and no current project is undergoing to, at the very least, to preserve and document what it appears may disappear.


Could you please sign and send a comment to help to stop this HydroAysen project to the web site below

Patagonia without a dam http://www.patagoniasinrepresas.cl/final/index-en.php

Map of the area at:



Dr. Elizabeth Arias-Bohart
Essig Museum of Entomology
1101 Valley Life Sciences  Bldg. #4780
University of California 
Berkeley CA 94720
etarias.bohart at berkeley.edu
   So  many beetles, so little time

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