20200206 140946 Z Goodwin33 Maranon SDTF near Ucuncha

Marañón Conserving a critical Amazon headwater

Embraced by the Andes, the huge Marañón river in Peru flows northwards to form the major headwater of the Amazon. The valley is so deep that it forms its own unique dry forest ecosystem surrounded by cloud forest and Andean uplands.

The Marañón is globally important for wildlife, endemic plants and agrobiodiversity; and for Amazon fish, it is a key spawning ground. Yet it is also a region of extreme poverty undergoing extensive degradation through deforestation and fires, and is threatened by multiple dams.

The valley is culturally central to many indigenous groups, like the Awajún. Fierce ancient tribes such as the Chachapoyas ‘cloud forest warriors’ repelled even the great Inca civilization. Beyond the Marañon lie the forest-swathed ruins of Kuelap and Gran Pajatén and many other lost cities. With this rich history, the valley has some of the highest concentrations of prehistoric rock paintings in Latin America.

Rainforest Concern is focused on the unique Marañón dry forests, working in partnership with Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, and through this project with Marañón Waterkeeper and Sociedad Peruana de Derecho Ambiental (SPDA). The goal is to find economically sustainable solutions that protect the ecosystem, biodiversity and its local communities.

Botanical knowledge and usage underpins the development of alternative income streams through sustainable agricultural diversification, ecological restoration, and increasing national protection, in line with Peruvian governmental strategies.

The project aims to: produce a Tough guide to the plants of the Marañón for local use; roll out new techniques and cultures of habitat restoration and critically endangered trees; develop income for rural communities and farmers with carbon neutral products and access to markets; and raise awareness with research to protect community restoration areas and develop protected areas.

Read more about this new conservation Area that protects a biodiversity hotspot in Peru

The Marañón river valley is a cradle of biodiversity and prehistorical culture found nowhere else on earth. The Marañón valley is threatened by multiple dam proposals, climate change, uncontrolled forest fires, mining and overgrazing.

Alternative smallholder income from forest conservation and restoration is urgently needed to save species, livelihoods and adapt to climate change. We are partnering communities, companies, and government to add value to Marañón products. Conserving the Marañón river system will protect Amazon fisheries, water supply, earth and human health.

Support this project to:

  • Produce Tough guide to the useful plants of the Marañón
  • Demonstrate new techniques and income through restoration
  • Conserve critically endangered trees and dry forest relicts
  • Develop community income from rafting for research, agricultural support, and tourism
  • Provide income for rural communities and farmers with access to markets
  • Raise awareness with research for protected areas

Help us protect this valley

The Marañón river valley is a cradle of biodiversity and culture found nowhere else on earth.

The Marañón valley is threatened by multiple dam proposals, climate change, uncontrolled forest fires, mining and overgrazing.

Alternative smallholder income from forest conservation and restoration is urgently needed to save species, livelihoods and adapt to climate change.

Conserving the Marañón river system will protect Amazon fisheries, water supply and planetary health

Economic drivers are needed to support government in an area classed in ‘extreme poverty’

Widespread fires are set every year, to clear for agriculture and in the belief it will  ‘make it rain’ (photo VZ)

Widespread fires are set every year, to clear for agriculture and in the belief it will ‘make it rain’ (photo VZ)

Threats

  • Multiple hydroelectric dams are planned to provide energy for mining and industry. Peru has an energy surplus with huge solar and wind potential.
  • Widespread fires are set every year, to clear for agriculture, and as the dry season is followed by the rains people light fires to make it rain – a commonly held belief.
  • After the rains unregulated overgrazing is leading to loss of forest regeneration and mass erosion of soil and causing silting up.
  • Climate change and global heating make fires expand further every year.
  • Deforestation of dry and surrounding montane forest is leading to droughts and diminishing water for agriculture in the villages above the river and downstream.

Biodiversity

  • Surrounding cloud and montane forest supports endemic primates such as the critically endangered Peruvian yellow-tailed woolly monkey Lagothrix flavicauda (CR) and the Peruvian Andean night monkey Aotus miconax (EN)
  • home to threatened hummingbird species including the and extraordinary Purple-backed Sunbeam Aglaeactis aliciae (EN), and the tiny 6 cm Little woodstar (Chaetocercus bombus) (VU).
  • Some birds also are critically endangered such as the Marañón Spinetail (CR) with its reciprocating echoing song (listen below) others are more widespread like the Marañón thrush Turdus maranonicus with its melodic whistle (listen below).
  • Also home to the threatened Marañón Crescentchest (NT), Yellow-faced Parrotlet Forpus xanthops (VU), Little Inca-finch Incaspiza watkinsi (NT) and Grey-winged Inca-finch Incaspiza ortizi
  • The Marañón acts as a a corridor for spectacled bear Tremarctos ornatus
  • Small sections of dry forest are recognized with regional protection by the Peruvian Government (SERFOR) as a Fragile ecosystems in 2020 and great efforts of NCI.
Maraniona lavinii

Maraniona lavinii – an endangered endemic tree and new Genus, named in 2004 after its valley home and discovered in 2002. Amazingly it is related to the famous ‘Tipa’ (Tipuana tipu) introduced to the streets of Sevilla, Spain and Lima, Peru.

Screen Shot 2020 12 07 at 14 24 28

Collecting seed of Coursetia cajamarcana (CR), lost to annual burning and overgrazing (José Luis Marcelo, Veronica Zuñiga, Jorge Chipa) with support of BGCI

Screen Shot 2020 12 07 at 14 25 09

‘Chacpa’ Oreocallis grandiflora (Proteaceae) – a hummingbird feeding station - pollinated by many hummers like the endangered

Purple-backed Sunbeam and even a paramo mouse! Has powerful medicinal properties; leaves prevent tooth decay, roots use for dysentery, flowers for kidney infections, and branches used for basket weaving. Photo OW

Screen Shot 2020 12 07 at 14 25 47

Collecting ‘Quiña rojo’ Polylepis multijuga - (VU threatened) endemic cloud forest tree around the Marañon (photo OW)

Maranon Logos

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Conservamos por Naturaleza, Sociedad Peruana de Derecho Ambiental (SPDA), Marañón Waterkeeper and Botanic Gardens Conservation International

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