Before and after dams: What they will never know

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Editor's note: Recently, we received these photos from Carolina Prato, a photographer from Valparaiso. We were taken aback by the astounding change that has taken place at Auco Valley, located in Chile's southern Maule region, and asked Carolina to share with us her reflections about these images. 
"A few days ago, I was talking with friends about the beauty of Chile's valleys and the unique variety of its richness in terms of forest species, colors, textures. And also, how beautiful it is to walk through these places, and that I have been waiting for my daughter to grow up so we could start taking long walks in the forests together.
But as I spoke, a friend commented that this was no longer so, that energy projects are increasingly destroying what we have, and to prove the point, I was shown the photos herein of Auco Valley. Needless to say, we were shocked to see these photos. 
I am speechless. These images are devastating. The incredible speed with which energy companies can transform a place like Auco.  The energy companies seemingly take a place without any conscience whatsoever and justify their actions by -- in theory -- saying that they are solving the people's energy demands. 
We can live in dignity without more consumption. We must respect the value of preserving an ecosystem, which no dam of any size can replace. From an economic point of view, a healthy, intact ecosystem has more benefits over the long-term for us and that of our children.  These places are more valuable than a mall or just a a weekend camping area. 
Perhaps some will say that I sound naive. But I say stop the excuses that we give our children: we can not do anything, we are in Chile, and so on.  Every society has gone through the same mistakes. We are a young country where changes and improvements are entirely possible with perseverance, discipline, faith, love and self-esteem." 


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Some of are guest columnists have so far included
  • Andres Gillmore, director of Corporación Costa Carrera 
  • Amanda Maxwell, Latin America Advocate, National Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
  • Lucas Chiappe, coordinator of Proyecto Lemu, El Bolson, Argentina
  • Damien Gillis, a documentary filmmaker from Vancouver, Canada
  • Jorge Moller, Chilean representative to the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC)
To contribute a guest column, write to us at