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Small creek near Pobreza stream, Rio Blanco, Peru

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Peru, Loreto, Requena province

The habitat I want to describe is a small creek that flows into the Pobreza stream near Quebrada Pobreza campsite (6km from the main course of Rio Blanco). Pobreza stream runs into Rio Blanco consequently, the tributary of Rio Tapiche, which runs into Rio Ucayali near Requena, a town in the Loreto Region in northeastern Peru. This acidic blackwater creek is located in a low-lying forest area (known as igapó) with pure water with low levels of salts and nutrients. Forests are growing on white sands and the bottom of the creek is covered with a fine layer of leaf litter and organic material and shallow-soil roots that limit erosion and retain nutrients and salts necessary for plants and animals.

Blackwater creeks in this area harbor dozens of fish species valued for their ornamental properties, in the genera Paracheirodon, Carnegiella, Hyphessobrycon, Thayeria, Corydoras, Monocirrhus, and Apistogramma.

Submitted by
Jan Šulc
Approved by
Roberto Reis, Francesco Denitto & Donald C. Taphorn
GPS
-5.9610000, -73.7509995
Geographical region
South America
Drainage Basin
Amazon basin
River catchment
Rio Ucayali
Water body type
Creek
Water body name
Small creek near Pobreza stream
Water body part
Water body course
Lower course
Water body: tributary of
Rio
Tributary name
Blanco

Videos above and below water

Water Chemistry

Water information

Water type
Fresh water
Water color
Black water
Water transparency
Medium
Concentration of sediments
Low
Water temperature
24,7 °C
Water flow/curent
Slow

Chemical parameters

pH
4.2
Conductivity
28.1
GH
0
KH
Dissolved Oxygen

Substrate in nature

Sand
Beige
Pebble/Gravel
None
Stone
None
Stone form
Silt/Mud
Brown
Leaves
Adundant
Driftwood
Few
Submerged terrestrial vegetation
no

Aquatic Biotope

Date of collecting
23/10/2014
Collecting area
Flooded area
Water depth
0,5m
Air temperature
Sunlight
Filtered/dappled sun

Environment

Environment
Affected by human activity
Affected by human activity
Pollution
Pollution
Little
Surrounding area

The Tapiche-Blanco region epitomizes Loreto’s extraordinary landscape diversity. It harbors large expanses of wetlands and peatland forests, white-sand forests, and hyperdiverse upland forests, and these are drained by a variety of black, white, and clearwater streams. Located within the global epicenter of amphibian, mammal, and
bird diversity, and highlighted by recent maps as possessing the largest aboveground carbon stocks in Peru, the region has maintained continuous forest and a high conservation value despite a long history of unregulated logging, hunting, and fishing.

Underwater landscape

This acidic blackwater creeks are located in a low-lying forest area (known as igapó) with pure water with low levels of salts and nutrients. Forests are growing on white sands and the bottom of the creek is covered with a fine layer of leaf litter and organic material and shallow-soil roots that limit erosion and retain nutrients and salts necessary for plants and animals.

Fishes: Astronotus ocellatus, Paracheirodon innesi, Carnegiella strigata, Thayeria boehlkei, Hyphessobrycon agulha, Hemigrammus analis, Crenuchus spilurus, Ammocryptocharax elegans, Copella nigrofasciata, Gasteropelecus sternicla, Corydoras napoensis, Corydoras trilinineatus.

Threats to ecology

1. Unstable and insecure land tenure:

  • A very low percentage of communities that possess title to their land, despite a long history of occupation and use
  • Two indigenous communities on the Tapiche River that are on the brink of disappearing (Nueva Esperanza and Yarina Frontera Topal); their disappearance would worsen the unstable land tenure situation, since these are titled communities
  • A phantom community (Nuevo Trujillo) created under false pretenses by illegal loggers in Requena to gain logging rights via a bosque local permit

2. Illegal or informal logging operations that have serious negative impacts on social and biological communities:

  • The pervasiveness of illegal and informal logging throughout the region; irregularities in concessions and permits are the rule
  • Weak government oversight of logging in the region and the
    failure of the concessions system
  • Misinformation and uncertainty regarding the legal status and location of logging concessions and permits, and regarding the steps needed to obtain logging rights. Local residents’ lack of basic information on logging makes it hard for them to defend their rights
  • Logging concessions that include forests with no commercial timber species (e.g., white-sand forests) or forests with timber species at commercially inviable densities; this gives permit holders an incentive to harvest timber outside of their designated areas.
  • The persistence in the region of the debt peonage system, which has long been associated with deplorable work conditions (human rights abuses, insufficient pay, lack of accident insurance, worker debt, misleading contracts, etc.)
  • Sanctions imposed on some communities by OSINFOR or SUNAT, due to mismanagement of logging permits granted by the Programa Forestal
  • Environmental impacts of informal logging (e.g., logging roads and overhunting of game birds and mammals around logging camps). These impacts are not restricted to upland forests (e.g., rafts of timber are often transported along streams and oxbow lakes)
  • Environmental impacts of mechanized logging (e.g., destruction of the root mat, erosion of fragile soils, and sedimentation of streams, rivers, and lakes)
  • Little to no forestry planning, which precludes sustainable logging and puts the region’s long-term timber stocks at risk.

03. Construction of access roads for logging concessions. We know of two different road-building initiatives of this type: the Orellana-Tapiche logging road and the network of roads planned by Green Gold Forestry in 2014. The latter consisted of one central road (along the Yanayacu-Tapiche watershed) and a number of secondary roads extending into the Tapiche and Blanco watersheds. Logging roads are a serious threat because they would cause:

  • The erosion of fragile soils in the area, which would lead to sedimentation and pollution in lakes and rivers
  • The destruction of white-sand forests, a rare natural treasure of the region
  • Colonization of new roads, which would lead to a boom in fishing, hunting, and natural resource harvests in the heart of the Tapiche-Blanco interfluve

04. Oil and gas exploration and production. The study area overlaps three active oil and gas concessions (Blocks 137, 135, and 95). Work in these concessions poses serious threats to the region, including:

  • Drastic socioeconomic changes, such as a boom in immigration and natural resource use
  • Environmental threats to water quality and aquatic ecosystems. One example widespread in oil and gas concessions elsewhere in Loreto are spills of drilling water or oil; these spills cause profound changes in the composition of
    surface waters, serious damage to floodplain ecosystems, and major threats to human well-being.
  • Potential water pollution if the abandoned wells are opened to fracking

05 Little to no oversight of natural resource harvests in the region. Hunting of bushmeat— whether commercial, subsistence, or around logging camps—is totally unregulated, and we saw evidence of overhunting in some areas. Fishing for ornamental fish and food fish is common in the region, but it is generally carried out without management plans, community regulations, or government oversight.

06. Weak governance. The absence of government authorities and the isolation and lack of institutional support faced by Tapiche-Blanco residents are at the root of many problems in the region. Some authorities are directly involved in corruption and subject to conflicts of interest, due to their ties to logging. Other problems
related to weak governance include:

  • Corruption at all levels of the regional government’s environmental authorities,
    which facilitates illegal harvests (especially timber)
  • Little to no police presence, which provides free access to drug traffickers, illegal loggers, and other criminal groups
  • A lack of supra-communal organizations that can resolve shared problems, and limited political representation at the provincial level
  • The chaotic state of the information that government agencies maintain on the Tapiche-Blanco region; data are scattered, imprecise, out of date, difficult to obtain, privately held, and often contradictory
  • Low-quality educational opportunities; most communities only have elementary schools, with teachers who are outsiders and present only sporadically
  • A local population that remains very much vulnerable to abuse by outsiders, due to the lack of work, information, and educational opportunities
  • A poor understanding among residents of legal terms and regulations, which has generated a number of penalties and fines (e.g., those levied by OSINFOR and SUNAT)

07. Temporary and permanent immigration of workers drawn to the region by logging activity and oil and gas concessions.

08. A poor understanding of how protected areas can contribute to the protection and management of natural resources. The perception among large segments of the population in these watersheds is that any kind of protected area will limit access to resources.

Riparian zone

Trees near the aquatic habitat
Many - Mauritia flexuosa, Mauritia carana, Euterpe catinga