The true costs of the Belo Monte Hydroelectric Project, planned for the Xingu River in the Brazilian Amazon, will be much higher than dam proponents admit, according to a new independent review by a panel of 40 specialists. The panel found that the dam would have serious consequences for the region, its inhabitants, and ecosystems of the Amazon rainforest.

The Amazon River accounts for one-fifth of the world's freshwater flow, and its floodplain is home to 60% of the world's remaining tropical rainforests. The basin's diverse ecosystems support an unparalleled array of biodiversity, and provide home to tens of thousands of indigenous people.

New studies confirm that fish ladders at dams in the tropics fail to meet their objective of guaranteeing the survival of migratory fish, and in fact, could hasten the extinction of some species. Brazilian scientists found that ladders act as an "ecological trap" attracting schools of fish to poorer environments, and making it even more difficult for them to reproduce.