The Marañón River is a vital link between the Andes and the Amazon basin, delivering nutrient rich sediment from the Andes mountains to the Amazon rainforest. Owing to its isolation, the river is home to many species that exist nowhere else on the globe, with new species regularly discovered. Its banks are also home to hundreds of thousands of people, including the indigenous Awajún communities.
In 2011, the Peruvian government announced plans to build an estimated 20 mega-dams along the length of the Marañón. The dams would create vast reservoirs submerging unique ecosystems including cloud forest, dry forest and lowland Amazon rainforest. It is likely that many unknown species would be lost. The potential social impacts of the mega-dams would be enormous, forcing many thousands of people from their homes and land and destroying livelihoods such as fish farming and crop cultivation.
As part of a campaign to protect the Marañón River from mega-dam development, Bruno Monteferri has co-directed The Roar of the Marañón. The film tells the complex story of communities and activist groups that have fought for years to protect the river. It also draws on five years of research to examine the potential social and environmental consequences of disrupting the Marañón’s course and inundating large areas of the valley.
““Between 2011 and today, the situation has changed radically. Hydroelectric power plants with dams are no longer a viable option, not only because of the irreparable social and environmental impacts they would cause, but also because in Peru, there are more sustainable and low-cost alternatives for electricity generation” explains Bruno.
The film is part of a wider campaign from organisations Conservamos por Naturaleza and Marañón Waterkeeper led by Bruno, in collaboration with Waterkeeper Alliance.
The Roar of the Marañón premiered at the IUCN World Conservation Congress on the 9th September. The congress saw a positive step forward for the campaign with the IUCN approving a Motion for the protection of Peru’s Amazonian Rivers.
Bruno explains the IUCN motion is an important contribution to the organisations working on the campaign as it urges that the Peruvian government to “strengthen their safeguards for infrastructure projects that affect the biodiversity of Amazonian rivers, including the need to require their clients to conduct rigorous studies, based on scientific and local knowledge, about the conditions of these rivers in order to understand their complexity and their relationship with the forests, land and ecosystems of the region”