If plans go forward, more than 400 hydroelectric dams will soon block the rivers of the Amazon Basin and its headwaters – destroying the region’s free-flowing rivers and possibly leading to ecosystem collapse. A major new focus of these plans is in Brazil’s Tapajós basin where numerous large dams are planned.

In the face of this dam building frenzy, the public has been told very little about the immediate and long-term threats these hydropower projects present to Amazonia’s forests, wildlife, terrestrial and aquatic environment. The public is also poorly informed about project financing, whether by BNDES or the international investment community.

Mongabay is looking for article pitches that detail the wide-ranging environmental impacts of hydro development in Amazonia, with a special emphasis on dam building projects in the Tapajós basin, and investment by BNDES and international funders.

We welcome proposals from experienced journalists for single Amazon Infrastructure articles, or for a series of articles on a particular environmental or investment topic. However, Mongabay will negotiate all fees and contracts on a per story basis.

Completed stories will be featured on and pay on a per word basis. We will also offer a bonus to journalists who proactively get their stories republished in major third party print media outlets and on sites that draw more than 100,000 unique visitors per month, with a special emphasis on articles published in Portuguese/English with major Brazilian media outlets. We are especially looking for writers able to write bilingual stories, and with major contacts in international and Brazilian print and online media.

Small sums are available to help defray travel costs, mostly within the Amazon region. However, some international travel funds may be offered to those who can guarantee advance article placement with major global media outlets.

Mongabay is looking for pieces on many Amazon Infrastructure issues, especially in the Tapajós basin. Here are some suggested topics:


  • Terrestrial ecosystem impacts of particular/multiple dams – forests, habitat loss, etc.
  • Aquatic ecosystem impacts particular/multiple proposed dams – fish migrations, diminished nutrient flow, fluctuating water levels, endangered species, etc.
  • Threats to animals – bi-lingual charismatic wildlife series, endangered species, etc.
  • Threats to plants – forest types, trees, valued medicinal plants, endangered species, etc.
  • Scientist profiles – cutting edge researchers of Amazon dam environmental impacts
  • Tracking environmental record of Odebrecht and other key dam construction companies
  • Neotropical dams and carbon emissions and climate treaty ramifications
  • Alternatives to large hydro dams in Amazonia (low impact energy development ideas)
  • Other enviro impacts – deforestation, cropland expansion resulting from improved river navigation, lack of development planning, road construction & habitat fragmentation, cement making, transmission lines, canal building / barge traffic, invasive species, etc.
  • Other hydro power enviro impacts – We’re open to all original / insightful queries.


  • Dam funding mechanisms – BNDES investment in Amazon projects
  • International Dam funding mechanisms – UN, IPCC, CDM, carbon credits, Neotropical dam emissions; Global Environment Facility (GEF) projects; Inter-American Development Bank, etc.
  • China and India connections – financing, dam construction, transmission lines, etc.
  • Hydropower and transportation (who is paying for canal construction?)
  • Big winners / losers – Large scale Agriculture, Energy, Investment vs. small-scale farmers, fishermen, communities, etc.
  • Finance and energy development – other


Please review Mongabay stories on this topic before writing a query, as we’ve covered it well in the past. We are most open to queries highlighting a new angle, or focusing on breaking news.

  • Impacts on riverside communities
  • Impacts on indigenous people
  • NGO response and resistance
  • Indigenous people response, especially innovative forms of resistance
  • Other ideas

MISCELLANEOUS (Medium Priority)

  • Focus on overall impacts of particular dam(s)
  • Focus on multiple dam impacts to particular tributaries
  • Focus on multiple dam impacts to particular watersheds / regions

There are many more topics not included in this list, and we look forward to your creative query submissions.

Please submit your Amazon Infrastructure MRN pitch here, along with your journalism resume.