Mekong Eye

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Saving the Salween: Southeast Asia’s last major undammed river

In a world of galloping hydro-power rapidly engulfing the developing world and new dams popping up in the Amazon, the Congo and along the Mekong, it is hard to find any important river left in the world, that has escaped unscathed and undammed.

The free-flowing Salween is the last important undammed river in East Asia, where endangered species including tigers and clouded leopards can still be found in remote parts of Myanmar’s ethnic Karen State.

From the snow-capped mountains of Tibet, the Salween rushes through steep gorges in Yunnan Province and flows through four of Myanmar’s ethnic states before emptying into the Andaman Sea.

By Tom Fawtrop

Salween River, Myanmar, June 15, 2016

The Ecologist

In a world of galloping hydro-power rapidly engulfing the developing world and new dams popping up in the Amazon, the Congo and along the Mekong, it is hard to find any important river left in the world, that has escaped unscathed and undammed.

The free-flowing Salween is the last important undammed river in East Asia, where endangered species including tigers and clouded leopards can still be found in remote parts of Myanmar’s ethnic Karen State.

From the snow-capped mountains of Tibet, the Salween rushes through steep gorges in Yunnan Province and flows through four of Myanmar’s ethnic states before emptying into the Andaman Sea.

China has covered almost all of its rivers with dams. But the Nu River (upper Salween) is the grand exception, where aggressive hydropower companies were forced into a rare retreat.

Thirteen years ago strong protests led by Dr Yu Xiaogang’s Green Watershed – a Chinese NGO – and a geological study of seismic danger in this earthquake-prone zone, persuaded the former Chinese premier Wen Jiabao to suspend all dam projects.

Read more at The Ecologist

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