By: Peter Bosshard
The Nu River - known as the Salween in Thailand and the Thanlwin River in Burma - is a treasure of biodiversity and China's last free-flowing river. Through great educational efforts, China's budding environmental movement managed to stave off dam building plans on the river in 2004 and 2009. In 2013, the Chinese government announced new plans to build five hydropower plants on the undammed river. Since then, NGOs like Green Watershed, Green Earth Volunteers and International Rivers have worked hard to document the unique ecological value of the Nu River and the serious environmental and geological risks of the proposed dam cascade. These efforts have now been crowned with success: The Power and Hydropower Development Plans for the 13th Five-Year plan period (2016-2020), which China's State Energy Administration has just published, no longer include any dams on the Nu River. The plans identify the basins in which further hydropower projects are to be built.
"The protection of the Nu River is a great turning point for the efforts to preserve China's rivers," says Stephanie Jensen-Cormier, the China Program Director of International Rivers. "It shows that China can reach its ambitious renewable energy goals without sacrificing the country's remaining healthy rivers."
Meanwhile, hydropower developers from Thailand, China and Burma plan to build seven hydropower dams on the Salween/Thanlwin River in active civil war zones in Burma. International Rivers supports the efforts of the Salween Watch Coalition to keep Southeast Asia's last major undammed river free-flowing.
Stephanie Jensen-Cormier, China Program Director of International Rivers, Beijing, email@example.com