The mega-bank that's imperiling the Amazon

Behind the avalanche of hydroelectric dams, roads, and other major infrastructure projects criss-crossing the Amazon rainforest is a very big bank--a bank that seems eager to invest in some of the most environmentally damaging projects in the world.  What is this bank?

  Amazon rivers and forests are in trouble... (photo by William Laurance)

Amazon rivers and forests are in trouble... (photo by William Laurance)

The bank in BNDES--Brazil’s National Bank for Economic and Social Development. 

BNDES is having such a big impact that it's attracting special interest from Mongabay, the influential environmental website, which has established a journalism prize to investigate the bank and its activities.

BNDES is behind five massive new dams in the Peruvian Amazon and a slew of other dam projects in Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Guyana

As reported by leading Amazon researcher and ALERT member Philip Fearnside, dams funded by BNDES could affect aquatic ecosystems in virtually all of the river basins in Amazonia, and are also promoting networks of new roads, population movements, and deforestation throughout the region.

BNDES is responsible for a large chunk of the current dam-building spree that could dramatically transform the Amazon.  More than 150 large Amazon dams are under construction or planned for the next 20 years, with 80% of these likely to cause major deforestation as a result of forest flooding and associated road-building.

Among the worst of these is the notorious Belo Monte dam, the world's third-largest hydroelectric dam, currently being built on a major tributary of the Amazon river.

Remember the name--BNDES.  This is one bank that needs to be watched and scrutinized carefully.