São Luiz do Tapajós Dam: economic impacts and ecosystem services losses for local and regional populations

Bacia do rio Tapajós, Pará
Region & Country

Ecosystems provide a variety of ecosystem services (ES) to society. Ecosystem services are benefit people obtain from ecosystem, as food or fresh water for example. Despite the importance of ES, they are still largely invisible in decision making, as in the case of the Tapajós River basin in Brazil.

The people living in the Tapajós River basin depend on the natural ecosystem for provision of food, clean water, raw materials, etc. These resources are crucial for their survival, well-being and income. However, infrastructure projects planned for the region will impact these services, thereby influencing the lives of these people, as in the case of the planned São Luiz do Tapajós Hydroelectric Plant. How to we evaluate ES losses? How do ES losses influence the lives of the local population and environment?

In this context, CSF conducted a valuation study of some of the ES to be impacted by the construction of the São Luiz do Tapajós Hydroelectric Plant, in order to understand how these impacts would be reflected in economic losses for the local population. The goals of this study are to raise awareness around how this construction could interfere in the livelihoods of municipalities and riverside, rural and indigenous communities, and improve the decision-making process for local and regional development.

The following groups of ES were analyzed:
1) Provisioning ES, such as food, wood and a variety of non-timber products that are essential to the livelihood and income of the local population;
2) Water, which has many uses; and
3) Maintaining global climate via CO2e storage, which has overall benefits, but also an important role in national targets and international agreements.

Currently, the construction of the São Luiz do Tapajós Hydroelectric Plant is blocked because the Free, Prior and Informed Consultation with the traditional populations to be affected has not yet been conducted. During this pause in the process, CSF has been working with other institutions to disseminate information about the possible impacts of the project. Workshops, presentations and discussions are being developed and conducted to bring stakeholders together to discuss these important issues. CSF’s valuation study will also soon be published.

This project is part of the Biodiversity Understanding in Infrastructure and Landscape - BUILD, which is a project of United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Please, click here to download our study.

The picture above is of the region known as “Corredeiras de São Luis do Tapajós”. It is a place of great beauty and an important regional touristic destination.
Photo credit: Camila Jericó-Daminello..