Peru is in the midst of an unprecedented resource "rush" – 72% of the jungle has been zoned for oil development alone. And according to recent studies, in just 10 years nearly half the Peruvian rainforest–one of the most biologically diverse areas on Earth–may be past the point of no return if current rates of deforestation continue. In The Real Avatar, David Suzuki sets off for the Amazon to investigate the effect this rush is having on the native peoples who call this land their home.
Under the shadow of the Cordillera del Condor mountains, and near where the mighty Amazon river begins, live the Awajun and Wampis peoples, a proud, warrior nation, never conquered by the Incas or the Spanish. Today, they feel they are being invaded again: Peruvian and Canadian mining companies aim to set up a gold mine on land these natives say is their traditional territory. In fact, the Awajun had an agreement for the establishment of a National Park along the Cordillera that would protect their land. But the Awajun found their agreement broken, quite literally in two, when Peru's President gave half the area over to mining interests. Studies indicate that mining here would devastate the area's water system – water that flows to the downstream Awajun communities.
The Awajun were already part of a deadly confrontation with National Police in 2009 over Peru's plans for "developing" the Amazon – can more violence be avoided in the future?
In the southern province of Madre de Dios, native peoples fought successfully for over a decade to establish a communal Reserve to protect their lands from illegal mining and logging. The Reserve created was so protected that not even the natives themselves were allowed to use it. And yet today, this same Reserve finds itself nearly totally engulfed by Oil Block 76, sold to the Hunt Oil Corporation of Texas. As Hunt's exploratory work begins, the natives find themselves divided. Some feel oil development will bring jobs and money, while others fear the social and environmental impacts, and know their very way of life is at risk.
And for those nearby "Uncontacted" natives living in the forest in voluntary isolation, in the same way they have for thousands of years, the stakes are even higher.
In The Real Avatar, David Suzuki journeys to the Peruvian Amazon to see first-hand the forces threatening the way of life of its indigenous peoples, and to explore the magnificent beauty and richness of this now-vanishing land, this "Pandora" on Earth.
A dramatic story of cultures in conflict, with the fate of the Amazon hanging in the balance, The Real Avatar is shot in full HD and is produced and directed by Roberto Verdecchia.