Anishinaabe Tribes in the Northern U.S. Are Adapting to Climate Change
By Samantha Harrington
If the forests of northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan keep secrets, it's only because people fail to listen. For about 500 years, since they moved to the region from the Northeastern U.S. and Canada, Anishinaabe tribes have built relationships and history with all beings in the region – from tall trees and moose to grains of sand and manidoonsag, which means "little spirits" in Ojibwe. Elders and tribal members who have taken the time to observe the landscape have witnessed their community members, both human and otherwise, adapt to harsh winters, wildfires, storms, pest outbreaks, and the arrival of Europeans.
Now they are recognizing the impacts of climate change on their communities. They can taste it in the way that the flavor of beaver worsens sooner as springs warm up earlier in the calendar year. They have heard it in the way the wind blows through declining beds of manoomin, or wild rice. There have been more obvious changes, too. Intense storms have washed out bridges and eroded the shores of small lakes and Lake Superior.
Despite limited financial resources, tribes in the region have prioritized a holistic kind of climate adaptation that is rooted in traditional values of relationship-building and observation. By taking their time, tribes have been proactive while striving to adapt in a way that aligns with their values and that is conscious of a scope and timescale much larger than one human life. As tribes do this work, they come up against the limitations of operating within a cultural system in the U.S. that is often diametrically opposed to the Anishinaabe worldview.
Leading on Climate Change
In 2007, Wayne Dupuis, the environmental program manager of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, approached the tribal council about adding the goals of the Kyoto Protocol into the tribe's resource management planning. They agreed. A year later, the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, in far northeastern Minnesota, was the second tribe in the U.S. to begin an adaptation plan. The majority of tribes in the region have since created or begun climate change monitoring and adaptation work.
Those timelines outpace many non-tribal communities in the Upper Midwest. The politically progressive county that houses Wisconsin's state capital did not create its Office of Energy and Climate Change until 2017.
Fifteen years ago in Grand Portage, the tribe began to notice and study the decline of brook trout in Trout Lake, a 61-acre lake on the reservation. Eventually the lake warmed so much that temperature-sensitive trout could no longer survive. The tribe restocked the lake with walleye and yellow perch, which thrive in warmer water. But Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources has not taken similar measures in other lakes in the northern part of the state.
"I think we're going to see a massive loss of trout species in northeastern Minnesota, and I think that the Minnesota DNR is going to have to really consider: Is it acceptable to have a whole bunch of lakes with no fish, or do we start trying to change to fish communities that are a bit more resilient?" asked Seth Moore, the director of biology and environment at the Grand Portage Band. "That's a no-brainer in my opinion. It almost feels like they're a decade late."
A Close Relationship With the Land
The guiding force behind much of this early work is the Anishinaabe emphasis on the connectedness of all beings and actions.
"We are here because of our relationship with the land," Dupuis said. "In many of our stories, it's our relationship with the Earth and the animals, the swimmers, the flyers that needs to be in harmony, and if we skew that balance, bad things happen. So our relationship with the Earth is primary – to be aware of what we're doing and considerate in what we do."
Katy Bresette, a member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe and an Ojibwe educator, said that it's important not to romanticize this practice as something mystical and far removed from a process that everyone is capable of. Looking at adaptation from the perspective of all members of the ecosystem and the connections between them helps create solutions that look beyond an individual human life.
"You have to understand that it's not necessarily about understanding whether changes are coming sooner," Bresette said. "It's just understanding that the changes exist and what they look like."
Ojibwe lands are particularly vulnerable to warming temperatures. The Northwoods lie in a transition zone between southern forests and the boreal forests of the north. Many of the region's cold-loving species, like paper birch and moose, are living in the southernmost reaches of their range. Warmer winters have already prompted the decline of some cold-weather species and the northerly migration of new species that were once killed off by the cold.
In addition to their inherent value as beings, many vulnerable species are culturally significant for their direct roles in tribal ceremonies and subsistence. Ash trees, threatened as warmer temperatures allow emerald ash borer to gain a stronger foothold in the forests, have long been used to make baskets, fishing tools, pipe stems, and lacrosse sticks.
Alex Mehne, forest manager of the Fond du Lac Band, said that black ash trees – which are the dominant tree species in the area – are critical in maintaining water levels in wetlands. Black ash trees grow in large groups in forested wetlands, where they absorb water from the ground.
That process helps protect critical manoomin beds downstream, particularly as rainstorms get more intense. Manoomin is sensitive to water changes, especially in June and July. "If the water level goes too high the plant will drown, and if it goes too low it'll be destroyed," said Eric Andrews, climate change coordinator of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
After an intense storm in 2012, the Fond du Lac manoomin crop failed.
As they noticed these vulnerabilities, Anishinaabe people began work to ease the coming changes. The Fond du Lac Band is experimenting with planting alternative wetland tree species to see if they could play a similar role in the ecosystem to the ash trees. So far, swamp white oak and silver maple seem to be succeeding.
Documenting Tribal Adaptation Strategies
Tribal adaptation in the Northwoods depends upon collaborative relationships between tribes and other regional resource managers. Those relationships were essential in the creation of the 2019 Tribal Climate Adaptation Menu (TAM), a document that includes 14 different adaptation strategies that can be used to help guide climate planning. It was born from an inclusive, community-centered process that contrasts with Western-style approaches in the region.
The menu came into being after some tribal members were involved in a watershed adaptation workshop put on by the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science. The institute, which is a partnership of federal agencies, universities and conservation organizations, has developed a variety of "menus" that present climate change adaptation strategy options for forest managers. At the watershed menu workshop, tribal members realized that while the process was useful, it was missing important context for tribal planning, such as shared values and community engagement.
"Eventually it came out that we needed a whole separate menu," said Nisogaabo Ikwe Melonee Montano, a member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe and the traditional ecological knowledge outreach specialist at the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission.
An essential part of creating this menu was establishing deep relationships and trust among the 19 creators of the document, who included both tribal and non-tribal members.
"Early on we kind of started joking with each other that it was actually the TAM fam," Bresette said. "There has been reciprocity here, and there has been love for each other."
All decisions about what to include in the menu were made by consensus. The menu's stated values are specific to the Great Lakes Anishinaabe perspective, but it is intended to be a living document that helps other tribes and non-tribal communities create plans for managing the impacts of climate change.
Nikki Cooley, of the Diné (Navajo) Nation, manages the Tribal Climate Change Program at the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals at Northern Arizona University. She said that there has been a lot of interest in expanding the menu to include values and languages from other tribes.
"In all my time, whether it's been in Glennallen, Alaska, which is a super small town four hours from Anchorage, or on the shores of La Jolla beach in San Diego, the commonality is that tribes are always very concerned about how climate change is going to affect their culture," Cooley said.
Members of the TAM team emphasized that people should spend time observing the environment before implementing any of the strategies so that they can make decisions informed by elders and non-human members of the community.
"They're giving us the things that we need to know and understand," Bresette said. "We're the only ones who aren't in the classroom. We're the ones who aren't spending time on our lessons. We're the ones not doing our homework."
Caught Between Conflicting Cultural Values
The TAM process centered native voices, but that is not always the case, even in tribal projects. Additionally, choices made by neighboring landowners can complicate work that tribes are doing.
Climate program leaders and resource managers at Red Cliff, Bad River, and Fond du Lac noted how much time they spend trying to prevent resource extraction companies from damaging their environment.
Andrews at Bad River is particularly concerned about the Line 5 natural gas and oil pipeline, operated by Enbridge, a Canadian energy company. The Bad River is eroding where it crosses the pipeline, particularly as heavy rainstorms become more frequent. The erosion is expected to expose the pipeline and put it at increased risk of breaking – worrisome as downstream of the intersection of the river and pipeline are the Kakagon Sloughs, a protected wetland and wild rice bed. It is a critical resource for the tribe.
Gidigaa-bizhiw (Jerry Jondreau), a member of the TAM team from the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community who founded his tribe's forestry department, said that the practice of prioritizing the use of natural resources for financial gain over the health of the whole ecological community is incredibly frustrating. "We're fighting with a system that is essentially backwards," Gidigaa-bizhiw (Jondreau) said. "It's designed from that Western viewpoint."
Gidigaa-bizhiw (Jondreau), said that he often found himself the only indigenous voice in the room in forestry conversations. He said that traditional knowledge was often brushed off and that native voices need to be, at minimum, equally represented in order to be heard. Native communities, he said, have been doing the work of caring for the environment for millennia and that people with resources need to recognize that expertise and support it.
"Relinquish authority," Gidigaa-bizhiw (Jondreau) said. "If you have money, and you want it to go to a good place, then give it to the people that are doing this work and don't make them jump through 10,000 hoops to try to get this stuff, because then you spend all your time working on the damn grants and not doing the work."
The Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science demonstrated support for elevating the expertise of native communities in the Upper Midwest in their commitment to developing the TAM. And some in Wisconsin's state government express interest in doing the same. "We owe it to the first stewards of this land to listen to them, partner with them, and follow their lead in making Wisconsin a more sustainable and equitable place for everyone," Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes said via email.
Reginald DeFoe, the director of resource management for the Fond du Lac Band in Minnesota, remains deeply worried about the lack of leadership on climate action in the U.S. and the world.
"I think the only way out of this kind of mess is we can't look backwards and blame everyone for what happened. The only way is to look forward," DeFoe said. "But right now the leadership is on a different track; they want to exploit more resources – mining, oil – and it just goes on and on."
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
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By Deborah Moore, Michael Simon and Darryl Knudsen
There's some good news amidst the grim global pandemic: At long last, the world's largest dam removal is finally happening.
A young activist for a free-flowing Salween River. A team of campaigners and lawyers from EarthRights International joined Indigenous Karen communities on the Salween in 2018 to celebrate the International Day of Actions for Rivers on March 14. This year, EarthRights joined communities living in the Eu-Wae-Tta internally displaced persons camp for a celebration in solidarity with those impacted by dam projects on the Salween River. EarthRights International<p>The dam removal project is a sign of the decline of the hydropower industry, whose fortunes have fallen as the <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-46098118" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">troubling</a> cost-benefit ratio of dams has become clear over the years. The rise of more cost-effective and sustainable energy sources (including wind and solar) has hastened this shift. This is exactly the type of progress envisioned by the <a href="https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/read/17023836/dams-and-development-a-new-framework-for-decision" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">World Commission on Dams</a> (WCD), a global multi-stakeholder body that was established by the World Bank and International Union for Conservation of Nature in 1998 to investigate the effectiveness and performance of large dams around the world. The WCD released a damning landmark <a href="https://www.un.org/press/en/2000/20001117.dam.pressconferencepm.doc.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">report</a> in November 2000 on the enormous financial, environmental and human costs and the dismal performance of large dams. The commission spent <a href="https://www.un.org/press/en/2000/20001117.dam.pressconferencepm.doc.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">two years</a> analyzing the outcome of the trillions of dollars invested in dams, reviewing dozens of case studies and testimonies from over a thousand communities and individuals, before producing the report.</p><p>But despite this progress, we cannot take hydropower's decline as inevitable. As governments around the world plan for a post-pandemic recovery, hydropower companies sense an opportunity. The industry is eager to recast itself as climate-friendly (<a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/how-green-is-hydropower-1919539525.html" target="_self">it's not</a>) and <a href="https://www.hydropower.org/covid-19" target="_blank">secure</a> precious stimulus funds to revive its dying industry — at the expense of people, the environment and a truly just, green recovery.</p>
Hydropower’s Troubling Record<p>The world's largest hydropower dam removal project on the Klamath River is a significant win for tribal communities. But while the Yurok and Karuk tribes <a href="https://www.karuk.us/images/docs/press/bring_salmon_home.php" target="_blank">suffered</a> terribly from the decline of the Klamath's fisheries, they were by no means alone in that experience. The environmental catastrophe that occurred along the Klamath River has been replicated all over the world since the global boom in hydropower construction <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/hydropower" target="_blank">began</a> early in the 20th century.</p><p>The rush to dam rivers has had huge consequences. After decades of rampant construction, only <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/05/worlds-free-flowing-rivers-mapped-hydropower/" target="_blank">37 percent of the world's rivers remain free-flowing</a>, according to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1111-9" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">one study</a>. River fragmentation has <a href="https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/70/4/330/5732594" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">decimated freshwater habitats and fish stocks</a>, threatening food security for millions of the world's most vulnerable people, and hastening the <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffopperman/2020/10/13/freshwater-wildlife-continues-to-decline-but-new-energy-trendlines-suggest-we-can-bend-that-curve/?sh=f9d175a61ee4" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">decline of other myriad freshwater species</a>, including mammals, birds and reptiles.</p><p>The communities that experienced the most harm from dams — whether in Asia, Latin America or Africa — often lacked political power and access. But that didn't stop grassroots movements from organizing and growing to fight for their rights and livelihoods. The people affected by dams began raising their voices, sharing their experiences and forging alliances across borders. By the 1990s, the public <a href="https://tinyurl.com/y55lnlst" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">outcry</a> against large dams had grown so loud that it finally led to the establishment of the WCD.</p><p>What the WCD found was stunning. While large dam projects had brought some economic benefits, they had also <a href="https://www.irn.org/wcd/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">forcibly displaced an estimated 40 to 80 million people in the 20th century alone</a>. To put that number into perspective, it is more than the current population of present-day <a href="https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.TOTL?locations=FR" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">France</a> or the <a href="https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.TOTL?locations=GB" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Kingdom</a>. These people lost their lands and homes to dams, and often with no compensation.</p><p>Subsequent research has compounded that finding. A paper published in <a href="https://tinyurl.com/c7uznz" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Water Alternatives</a> revealed that globally, more than <a href="https://tinyurl.com/yxw8x7ab" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">470 million people living downstream from large dams</a> have faced significant impacts to their lives and livelihoods — much of it due to disruptions in water supply, which in turn harm the complex web of life that depends on healthy, free-flowing rivers. The WCD's findings, released in 2000, <a href="https://www.irn.org/wcd/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">identified</a> the importance of restoring rivers, compensating communities for their losses, and finding better energy alternatives to save rivers and ecosystems.</p>
Facing a New Crisis<p>Twenty years after the WCD uncovered a crisis along the world's rivers and recommended a new development path — one that advances community-driven development and protects freshwater resources — we find ourselves in the midst of another crisis. The global pandemic has hit us hard, with surging loss of life, unemployment and instability.</p><p>But as governments work to rebuild economies and create job opportunities in the coming years, we have a choice: Double down on the failed, outdated technologies that have harmed so many, or change course and use this transformative moment to rebuild our natural systems and uplift communities.</p><p>There are many reasons to fight for a green recovery. The climate is changing even <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-07586-5" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">faster</a> than expected, and some dams — especially those with reservoirs in hot climates — <a href="https://tinyurl.com/w6w29t8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">have been found to emit more greenhouse gases than a fossil fuel power plant</a>. Other estimates have put global reservoirs' human-made greenhouse gas emissions each year on par with <a href="https://www.climatecentral.org/news/greenhouse-gases-reservoirs-fuel-climate-change-20745" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Canada's</a> total emissions.</p><p>Meanwhile, we now understand that healthy rivers and freshwater ecosystems play a <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/b55b1fe4-7d09-47af-96c4-6cbb5f106d4f/files/wetlands-role-carbon-cycle.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">critical role in regulating and storing carbon</a>. And at a time when <a href="https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2019/05/nature-decline-unprecedented-report/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">biodiversity loss is soaring</a>, anything we can do to <a href="https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/70/4/330/5732594" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">restore habitat is key</a>. But with <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/271996520_A_Global_Boom_in_Hydropower_dam_Construction" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">more than 3,700 major dams proposed or under construction</a> in the world (primarily in the Global South, with over <a href="https://news.mongabay.com/2020/08/more-than-500-dams-planned-inside-protected-areas-study/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">500 of these in protected areas</a>), according to a 2014 report — and the hydropower industry <a href="https://www.hydropower.org/covid-19" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">jockeying</a> for scarce stimulus dollars — we must act urgently.</p>
Signs of Hope<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTcxMzUyMS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxOTcyNTc3OX0.EbqBVPs2kjhrY5AqnZXOb_GX-s6pw4qyJmmeISzKA6U/img.png?width=980" id="a81d0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="87bc79d69f72e9334a78da8e0355e6ae" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1620" data-height="1068" />
Fish catch at the Siphandone on the Mekong River, prior to the completion of the Don Sahong Dam. Pai Deetes / International Rivers<p>So what would a strong, resilient and equitable recovery look like in the 21st century? Let's consider one example in Southeast Asia.</p><p>Running through six countries, the Mekong River is the world's 12th-longest river, which is home to one of the world's most biodiverse regions, and includes the world's <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/places/greater-mekong#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">largest</a> inland fishery. Around <a href="https://tinyurl.com/y6jrarjo" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">80 percent of the nearly 65 million people</a> who live in the Lower Mekong River Basin depend on the river for their livelihoods, according to the Mekong River Commission. In 1994, Thailand built the Pak Mun Dam on a Mekong tributary. <a href="https://tinyurl.com/y5ekfp4h" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Six years later</a>, the <a href="https://tinyurl.com/yxcvs6up" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">WCD studied the dam's performance</a> and submitted its conclusions and recommendations as part of its final report in 2000. According to the WCD report, the Pak Mun Dam did not deliver the peaking energy service it was designed for, and it <a href="https://tinyurl.com/y38p3jaw" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">physically blocked a critical migration route</a> for a range of fish species that migrated annually to breeding grounds upstream in the Mun River Basin. Cut off from their customary habitat, fish stocks plummeted, and so did the livelihoods of the local people.</p><p>Neighboring Laos, instead of learning from this debacle, followed in Thailand's footsteps, <a href="https://tinyurl.com/y4eaxcq2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">constructing two dams on the river's mainstem</a>, Xayaburi Dam, commissioned in 2019, and Don Sahong Dam, commissioned in 2020. But then a sign of hope appeared. In early 2020, just as the pandemic began to spread across the world, the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/20/cambodia-scraps-plans-for-mekong-hydropower-dams" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cambodian government reconsidered its plans to build more dams on the Mekong</a>. The science was indisputable: A government-commissioned report showed that further dams would <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/16/leaked-report-warns-cambodias-biggest-dam-could-literally-kill-mekong-river" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reduce the river's wild fisheries, threaten critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphins</a> and <a href="https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/2013WR014651" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">block nutrient-rich sediment from the delta's fertile agricultural lands</a>.</p><p><a href="https://data.opendevelopmentmekong.net/dataset/4f1bb5fd-a564-4d37-878b-c288af460143/resource/5f6fe360-7a68-480d-9ba4-12d7b8b805c9/download/volume-3_solar-alternative-to-sambor-dam.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies</a> show that Cambodia didn't need to seek billions of dollars in loans to build more hydropower; instead, it could pursue more cost-effective solar and wind projects that would deliver needed electricity at a fraction of the cost — and <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/press-releases/wwf-statement-on-cambodian-government-s-decision-to-suspend-hydropower-dam-development-on-the-mekong-river" target="_blank">without the ecological disasters to fisheries and the verdant Mekong delta</a>. And, in a stunning reversal, Cambodia listened to the science — and to the people — and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/20/cambodia-scraps-plans-for-mekong-hydropower-dams" target="_blank">announced</a> a 10-year moratorium on mainstream dams. Cambodia is now <a href="https://www.voanews.com/east-asia-pacific/cambodia-halts-hydropower-construction-mekong-river-until-2030" target="_blank">reconsidering</a> its energy mix, recognizing that mainstream hydropower dams are too costly and undermine the economic and cultural values of its flagship river.</p>
Toward a Green Recovery<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTcxMzUwOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTMwMjk0M30.0LZCOEVzgtgjm2_7CwcbFfuZlrtUr80DiRYxqKGaKIg/img.jpg?width=980" id="87fe9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e6b9bfeb013516f6ad5033bb9e03c5ec" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="2100" data-height="3086" />
Klamath River Rapids. Tupper Ansel Blake / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service<p>Increasingly, governments, civil servants and the public at large are rethinking how we produce energy and are seeking to preserve and restore precious freshwater resources. Dam removals are increasing exponentially across <a href="https://www.americanrivers.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/DamsRemoved_1999-2019.pdf" target="_blank">North America</a> and <a href="https://damremoval.eu/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/DRE-policy-Report-2018-digitaal-010319.pdf" target="_blank">Europe</a>, and movements advancing <a href="https://www.rightsofrivers.org/" target="_blank">permanent river protection are growing across Latin America, Asia and Africa</a>.</p><p>We must use the COVID-19 crisis to accelerate the trend. Rather than relying on old destructive technologies and industry claims of newfound "<a href="https://www.hydrosustainability.org/news/2020/11/12/consultation-on-a-groundbreaking-global-sustainability-standard-for-hydropower" target="_blank">sustainable hydropower</a>," the world requires a new paradigm for an economic recovery that is rooted both in climate and economic justice as well as river stewardship. Since December 2020, hundreds of groups and individuals from more than 80 countries have joined the <a href="https://www.rivers4recovery.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Rivers4Recovery</a> call for a better way forward for rivers and natural places. This paradigm will protect our rivers as critical lifelines — supporting fisheries, biodiversity, water supply, food production, Indigenous peoples and diverse populations around the world — rather than damming and polluting them.</p><p>The promise of the Klamath dam removals is one of restoration — a move that finally recognizes the immense value of free-flowing rivers and the key role they play in <a href="https://f.hubspotusercontent20.net/hubfs/4783129/LPR/PDFs/Living_Planet_Report_Freshwater_Deepdive.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">nourishing both the world's biodiversity and hundreds of millions of people</a>. Healthy rivers — connected to watershed forests, floodplains, wetlands and deltas — are key partners in building resilience in the face of an accelerating climate crisis. But if we allow the hydropower industry to succeed in its <a href="https://www.world-energy.org/article/12361.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cynical grab for stimulus funds</a>, we'll only perpetuate the 20th century's legacy of suffering and environmental degradation.</p><p>We must put our money where our values are. Twenty years ago, the WCD pointed the way forward to a model of development that takes humans, wildlife and the environment into account, and in 2020, we saw that vision flower along the Klamath River. It's time to bring that promise of healing and restoration to more of the world's rivers.</p><p><em>Deborah Moore is a former commissioner of the <a href="https://www.water-alternatives.org/index.php/alldoc/articles/vol3/v3issue2/79-a3-2-2/file" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" style="">World Commission on Dams</a>. Michael Simon was a member of the <a href="https://www.hydrosustainability.org/assessment-protocol" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" style="">Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Forum</a>. Darryl Knudsen is the executive director of <a href="https://www.internationalrivers.org" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" style="">International Rivers</a>.</em></p><p><em>This article first appeared on <a href="https://truthout.org/articles/damming-rivers-is-terrible-for-human-rights-ecosystems-and-food-security/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Truthout</a> and was produced in partnership with <a href="https://independentmediainstitute.org/earth-food-life/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Earth | Food | Life</a>, a project of the Independent Media Institute.</em></p>
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By John R. Platt
The straw-headed bulbul doesn't look like much.
It's less than a foot in length, with subdued brown-and-gold plumage, a black beak and beady red eyes. If you saw one sitting on a branch in front of you, you might not give it a second glance.
Cages line the Malang bird and animal market on Java in 2016. Andrea Kirkby / CC BY-SA 2.0
A kingfisher, looking a little worse for wear, in the Malang bird and animal market in 2016. Andrea Kirkby / CC BY-SA 2.0
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