Chalillo Dam

Belizean macaws and tapirs threatened by dam project

Elizabeth Mistry
The Independent (UK)
April 6, 2003

Belize court rules
Canadian power giant Fortis Inc. can build a dam in Belize’s upper
Macal River. The Belize Alliance of Conservation Non-Governmental
Organisations (Bacongo) to appeal.


The future of some of the world’s rarest mammals
and birds is in doubt after a court in Belize ruled that a giant
Canadian power company, Fortis, could build a dam on the upper Macal
river in the tiny Central American state.

This week the Belize Alliance of Conservation Non-Governmental
Organisations (Bacongo) will begin preparing an appeal to the Privy
Council in London, the final court of appeal for Belize, which gained
full independence from Britain in 1981.

Fortis – backed by the Belizean government, which has made millions of
pounds from privatising its electricity industry – wants to construct a
huge concrete dam across the upper Macal river, designated a “biogem”
because of the range of habitats found in the area near the Maya
mountains in the south-west of the country.

If the project, known as the Chalillo Dam, goes ahead, more than 1,000
hectares of rain forest will be flooded, destroying the foraging area
for jaguars from the nearby reserve, as well as the unique riverbank
feeding grounds for the Baird’s tapir, Belize’s national animal, listed
as endangered by the International Conservation Union.

The greatest fear of Belizean and international environmental
organisations – which have enlisted the support of Hollywood stars
Harrison Ford and Cameron Diaz – is the loss of the Belizean scarlet
macaw, of which there are no more than 150 left in the wild.

Categories: Chalillo Dam

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