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About Rivers

Buba River, Guinea-Bissau

Buba River, Guinea-Bissau

Land and water are ecologically linked into systems called catchments or watersheds. From the smallest droplet to the mightiest river, water works to shape the land. River systems stitch together the landscape, transporting materials and living organisms rather like our body's circulatory system. A catchment is a web of life.

A healthy river is a highly complex web of natural systems. Major engineering interventions such as dams, water diversions and channelization projects harm rivers by altering their chemistry, their flow, their physical nature ("geomorphology").

Natural river systems provide fisheries, floodplain agriculture, natural services and products, aquifer replenishment, water quality improvement in polluted sites, and high biodiversity – all free. All of these free services can be diminished or destroyed by river-engineering projects.

For a visual introduction to dams, rivers and people watch our We All Live Downstream slideshow.