Watersheds in South America

NWNL offers this list as a helpful resource,
but does not necessarily endorse the viewpoints of the videos below.

The Bridge at Q’eswachaka by Noonday Films for Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, 2015 (3:15).

From the description: Every year, local communities on either side of the Apurimac River Canyon [in southern Peru] use traditional Inca engineering techniques to rebuild the Q’eswachaka Bridge. The entire bridge is built in only three days. The bridge has been rebuilt in this same location continually since the time of the Inca.

NWNL Comment: This is bridge-building by a community in time-tested fashion. So many lessons and metaphors to be taken from this! What an inspiration for using community and natural resources for solving issues concerning water rights, usage, quality and availability!

Patagonia Rising (Trailer) by Brian Lilla with Patagonia Inc., 2012 (2:30).

Notes by Brian Lilla: Patagonia Rising investigates a plan to build five large hydroelectric dams on two of the world’s purest free-flowing rivers in Chile. Tracing the hydrologic cycle of the Baker River from ice to ocean, Patagonia Rising brings voice to the South American cowboys, Gauchos, caught in the crossfire of future energy demands. To learn more about Patagonia Rising, go to

NWNL Comment: This visually-stunning film rails against the impact of two proposed mega-dams, saying “We need water to survive:” The narrator suggests 2 meanings for that phrase: we can’t live without water – and we must protect our water sources so we’ll always have it. The narrator notes that rivers are also sources of nutrients not only to the watershed, but also the estuary downstream and the ocean. Because we’ve dammed so many rivers, there’s no 40% less plankton in the oceans. The corporation building the dams is not even Chilean, but they own the rights to 80% of Chile’s freshwater resources.

The Kayapó Nation: Protectors of the Amazon by Conservation International, 2008 (3:02).

Description by Conservation International: The Kayapó Nation is composed of indigenous Indians living in the Amazon rainforest. The Amazon forest is increasingly threatened by deforestation caused by fires burning massive areas for agriculture production. Logging, gold mining, and dam construction are other serious threats.

Because deforestation is one of the leading causes of climate change, not only does this loss threaten the survival of many indigenous communities such as the Kayapó, it impacts people the world over. Often called the “lungs of the earth,” tropical forests help stabilize climate by absorbing the carbon dioxide. The destruction of forests is the second largest source of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.

NWNL Comment: The global threats to our freshwater systems of slash-and-burn agriculture and resource extraction, as highlighted in this video demand the concerted and joint efforts of international conservation groups working on the ground with indigenous stakeholders trying to protect their land and their rivers.