Last update:
2018-11-05

Controversial Amazon route of Transcontinental Railway Brazil-Peru

A planned railway through the Amazon (Sierra del Divisor) was becoming likely. The project seems to have lost political support in favor of other "bi-oceanic" routes.


Description:

The Transcontinental Railway Brazil-Peru via the axis Cruzeiro do Sul - Pucallpa is a proposed railway (or alternatively highway) construction project that had subsequently been taking shape throughout the last years. Also referred to as "EF-354" in Brazil, it would establish a corridor to link Brazil with the Pacific coast and thereby among others cross a sensitive area in the Amazon rainforest, which raised concerns about its socio-ecological impacts. The project seems so far stopped after a political swing of opinion in favor of a concurring railway project through Bolivia, the Central Bi-Oceanic Railway Corridor.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Controversial Amazon route of Transcontinental Railway Brazil-Peru
Country:Brazil
State or province:Acre (BR) - Ucayali (PE)
(municipality or city/town)Boqueirão da Esperança / Serra do Divisor
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Land acquisition conflicts
Deforestation
Establishment of reserves/national parks
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific commodities:Transport services
Land
Timber
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

The Transcontinental Railway Brazil-Peru project along the Cruzeiro do Sul – Pucallpa axis, as it was planned in 2016, would form part of the central axis of the Interoceanic Corridor Brazil-Peru of the IIRSA infrastructure initiative (Iniciativa para a Integração da Infraestrutura Regional Sul-Americana; www.iirsa.org/) which seeks to promote South America’s economic integration and infrastructure. For the Brazilian railway part IIRSA plans are also referred to as "EF-354". The most critical section of the railway corridor would affect the Serra do Divisor National Park in Brazil, its Sierra del Divisor equivalent on the Peruvian side and the Reserva Territorial Isconahua. Sierra del Divisor is a unique, mountainous tropical region in the Amazon and so far widely untouched, but especially the Peruvian side has increasingly experienced informally established roads, illegal logging and gold mining invasions as well as the increasing plantation of coca. In 2015 it was declared as a National Park. The China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group Co (CREEGC) has conducted the feasibility study and the Brazilian state-owned railway operator Valec the assessment report. As it was calculated by CREEGC, the railway connection would extend over 5,000 km and reduce the price of each transported ton of grain or minerals by 30 US-Dollar. While the Chinese investment was estimated to be in the range of 10 billion US-Dollar, the full finance plan was never revealed but could have been in form of a loan from China to Brazil or a public-private-partnership model. The Central Bi-Oceanic Railway Corridor (CBRC) as the currently most likely alternative project would have a total length of 3.000 kilometers and lead to the same cost reductions in exports. This route would benefit Bolivia with a corridor to the Pacific coast. [5][6] [8] [15][21]

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Level of Investment:10,000,000,000
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:01/06/2012
End of the conflict:01/08/2018
Company names or state enterprises:VALEC Engenharia, Construcoes e Ferrovias S.A. (VALEC) from Brazil
China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group Co. Ltd. (GREEGC) from China - Conducted feasability study for the Amazon railway section
Relevant government actors:Governments of Brazil, Peru, China and regional governments of Acre and Ucayali
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America (SALSA) www.salsa-tipiti.org/

The Nature Conservancy https://www.nature.org/en-us/

Derecho Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (DAR) www.dar.org.pe/en/

Greenpeace http://www.greenpeace.org/peru/es/

SOS Amazonia www.sosamazonia.org.br

Instituto del Bien Común www.ibcperu.org/

Grupo Regional de Monitoreo de Mega Proyectos de Ucayali (GRMMRU)

Friends of the Earth Peru https://www.foei.org/

Conservación Internacional www.conservation.org.co/

Survival International https://www.survivalinternational.org/

Organização dos Povos Indígenas do Acre Sul do Amazonas e Noroeste de Rondônia - OPIN
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityLATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Official complaint letters and petitions
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Other socio-economic impactsNumerous indigenous peoples would be affected in the Sierra del Divisor
Outcome
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Negotiated alternative solution
Project temporarily suspended
Development of alternatives:A proposed alternative is to extend fluvial transport, which is considered the most socio-environmental friendly by experts such as Marc Dourojeanni.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:So far it seems that the project will not take place along the Amazon corridor although this could have to do with the high costs rather than the impact of mobilization, which was rather latent (only a few public voices and media reports). All in all, the project will not take place in the next years. This can however change again with every new government - the plans already exist and also road construction has been considered as a (cheaper) option.
Sources and Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Laurance, W.; Goosem, L.; Laurance, S. (2009): Impacts of roads and linear clearings on tropical forests. Trends in Evolution and Ecology (TREE) 1149, 1–11 .

Farrell, Katharine N. & Silva-Macher, Jose Carlos, 2017. "Exploring Futures for Amazonia's Sierra del Divisor: An Environmental Valuation Triadics Approach to Analyzing Ecological Economic Decision Choices in the Context of Major Shifts in Boundary Condition," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 141(C), pages 166-179.

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

3. Johnson, H. (2015): Case Study: The Amazonian Road Decision. National Geographic Online, 10.08.2015. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

14. Dalby, C. (2016): The first clean mega-infrastructure project. Eniday Online. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

16. Railwaypro.com (2016): Peru: Brazil-Peru interoceanic rail project under doubt. 16.09.2016. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

2. Ríos, S. (2014): Pucallpa – Cruzeiro do Sul, la carretera de la discordia. Ideele Revista Nº 239, Online. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

5. Bedinelli, T. (2015): Un ferrocarril chino amenaza tierras vírgenes del noroeste de Brasil. El Pais Online, 03.08.2015. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

1. Fraser, B. (2016): A railroad that crosses the Amazon could be an infeasible, expensive dream for Peru. Mongabay News, 04.02.2016. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

12. SPDA Actualidad Ambiental (2015): Marc Dourojeanni y la interconexión en la Amazonía. Video Interview. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

13. Sputnik News Brasil (2018): Bolívia comemora 'apoio total' do Brasil a projeto de corredor ferroviário bioceânico. 01.08.2018. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

15. Grey, E. (2018): The Bi-Oceanic Corridor: a new railroad to rival maritime freight? Railway-Technology.com; 30.04.2018. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

6. Leal, M. (2016): A Chinese Train Could Link South America’s Atlantic and Pacific Coasts by Rail for the First Time. ChinaFile.com, 15.09.2016. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

4. Fowks, J. (2015): El tren bioceánico, uno de los ejes de los acuerdos entre China-Perú. El País Online, 23.05.2015. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

10. Fernández, C. (2015): Partir la Amazonia por la mitad. Portal Ecoavant, 17.08.2015. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

11. Dourojeanni, M. (2015): El ferrocarril interoceánico chino y nuestra desordenada visión de desarrollo. Actualidad Ambiental, 01.06.2015. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

19. Servindi (2012): Perú: Piden declarar insostenible carretera binacional Pucallpa – Cruzeiro do Sul. Portal Servindi, 31.10.2012. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

20. Instituto del Bien Comú (2013): Proyecto Carretera Pucallpa-Cruzeiro Do Sul no considera derechos de las poblaciones indígenas. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

8. Díaz, J. (2015): El riesgo ambiental del Tren Interoceánico entre Perú y Brasil. Portal Servindi, 04.06.2015. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

7. Leal, M. (2016): Ferrovía transcontinental debe comenzar el año próximo. 16.08.2016. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

17. Reuters (2018): Brazil drops railway to the Pacific for China exports, citing costs. 02.02.2018. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

18. BBC Mundo (2016): Los intentos de Europa por subirse al tren bioceánico que China quiere construir entre Brasil y Perú. BBC Mundo Online, 16.01.2016. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

21. Cannon, J. (2015): Satellites spot deforestation in almost-approved Peruvian national park. Mongabay News, 16.07.2015. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

9. Butler, R. (2015): China defends trans-Amazon railway, says it will protect the environment. Mongabay News, 27.05.2015.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Video Interview "Marc Dourojeanni y la interconexión en la Amazonía"
[click to view]

Other documents

The alternative railway project through Bolivia
[click to view]

Serra do Divisor
[click to view]

Sierra del Divisor
[click to view]

Plans for the Transatlantic Railway
[click to view]

The corridor would serve as a connection between China and Brazil
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Max Stoisser
Last update05/11/2018
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