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Hydropower dams may be an unlikely new weapon for conservationists trying to save tropical trees. A new study reveals that vast forests are necessary to keep rivers flowing and turbines spinning. Without them, the dams produce significantly less power than they would otherwise. "The idea that protecting tropical forest is necessary for sustainable hydropower is a new argument," says Kathryn Hochstetler of the Balsillie School of International Affairs and the University of Waterloo in Canada. The findings could encourage forest conservation, she says, but they might also encourage construction of dams that are more damaging to the local environment.

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