This September, the River Collective is supporting a team of River Collective members and friends on a mission to build connections for the protection of the Rio Marañón. Luigi, Libby and Vera will be kayaking the upper Marañón River from where the water allows navigation, towards Balsas. On their way, they will be having conversations with riverside communities about what the river means to them, and why they would, or would not, like to see it protected.
The Marañón is often described as the hydraulic source of the Amazon. It springs in the Andes and then runs in between two of its mountain ranges for almost 1000 kilometers, carving away sediments from these young mountains in high loads, and transporting them to the Amazon basin, along with endless nutrients. While the landscape changes, the biodiversity changes. The most unique ecosystem of the Marañón is its tropical dry forest, creating habitats for many endemic species.
Five years ago, the Marañón was under great threat from two large dam projects. Due to the combined efforts of locals and NGOs, these projects are halted for now, though it is not sure if this is forever, or if new investments pose a new threat soon. In addition, the Marañón faces threats from mining and oil spills. Now would be a good moment to protect this river for generations to come.
Conservamos por Naturaleza, an NGO from Lima under the SPDA (Peruvian Society for Environmental Law), is on a mission to create such legal protection. They are currently analysing options and will be drafting a law by December, that should allow the Marañón and other Amazonian rivers to be protected effectively. They are aiming to replicate their successful and novel law to protect surf breaks along the Peruvian coast (Hazla por tu Ola).
Marañón Waterkeeper, which runs under Conservamos por Naturaleza and is highly connected to Marañón Experience, has built up a strong relationship with the riverside communities between Balsas and Puerto Malleta, the 7-day rafting section they run most. Higher upstream, however, the sections that are only accessible by kayak, there is little connection still. The three kayakers will be on a mission to create these connections, find the local river defenders, and spread the information about the initiative to create a law for the protection of the Marañón.
They will be running class IV-V sections and will be portaging some unrunnable sections, thereby connecting the communities higher up with those lower down, finding allies in the fight for the river’s protection.
This mission will help to create a month-long river tour in 2024, in which we will invite people to join in a celebration of the free-flowing Marañon. Stay up to date through the River Collective newsletter to see how you can get involved in a later stage!