In the summer of 2015, a diverse team of scientists, writers, environmental resource professionals, river guides and a videographer converged for The Maranon Project. This 30-day river expedition on the headwater stem of the Amazon aimed to better understand the Rio Maranon river system by collecting a baseline data set to characterize the river’s hydrology, geomorphology and invertebrate biology. The timing of the project is critical, with tens of dams being planned on the Maranon. While many tributaries to the Amazon are already dammed, the currently free-flowing Maranon provides one of the last critical connections between the Andean highlands and the Amazonian lowlands -- a link that is essential for the environmental resources and communities of the Maranon as well as the larger Amazon basin. Our science-adventure team ran 620 kilometers through the upper and inner gorges, through the lower lying plains and into the jungle pongos of the Rio Maranon. Dubbed the “Grand Canyon of the Amazon,” the Maranon’s nearly continuous Class 2-5 whitewater lived up to its name.
The Maranon Project has a joint science and outreach mission with three principal goals:
1) collect a baseline hydrologic, geomorphologic and biologic data set of this poorly understood remote region.
2) Instigate a precedent for data collection on remote river systems subject to future development so that resource management decisions can use data-driven science as part of the decision making process.
3) Record our experience and the Maranon river corridor through a professional quality film which is aimed at raising international awareness and providing a voice to the voiceless river system currently at stake.
National Geographic has generously supported the science exploration aspects of The Maranon Project.
Please consider supporting our outreach efforts through donations that can be made by credit card here: http://confluirfilm.causevox.com
The currently free-flowing Marañón River is not only important for the cultural and ecological health of Peru but is also the mainstem source of the Amazon River. Starting in the Andes Mountains, it cuts through a canyon twice the depth of the Colorado River’s Grand Canyon and nurtures the rain forests of the Amazon basin. As the energy demands of Peru increase, the Marañón River faces over 20 proposed megadam projects, two of which have already been approved. The energy created by the proposed dams has been slated to power Peruvian coal mines and in large be exported out of the country. Any one of these dams would cause the first major break in connectivity between the Andean headwaters and the Amazonian flood plain.
Our mission is to collect baseline data and document the natural and cultural resources that may be at risk from hydropower development on the Río Marañón.
We believe the best decisions are informed decisions. As proposed hydropower projects are discussed on the Maranon and other rivers around the world, the impacts to the natural environment and under-represented communities need to be better evaluated, so they can be considered as part of the decision making process.
We intend to collect a baseline pre-development data set regarding critical river health parameters potentially impacted by hydropower development, while video documenting our 30-day raft voyage on the currently free-flowing Marañón River.