All posts by Nicholas Locke

Orchid Cathedral nears completion

The REGUA orchid cathedral is receiving its 80% sun filter netting which will reduce the temperature significantly.

Obviously orchids are found across the entire gradient, from sea level to 2000m above sea level and the challenge is to provide an ambience that responds to their climatic demands.

João and Tiago working hard to complete the Orchid Cathedral (© Nicholas Locke)

We have received sound advice with regard to the structure of the building, how to provide the best environment for the specimens and most importantly, the ongoing management of the orchids. Rosário Braga (a biologist and former head of OrquidaRio, the RJ orchid club) and Helmut Seehawer, a long-standing friend of REGUA and orchid expert have been invaluable in their support.

We have been warned that watering is not a simple task, and we aim to have a semi-automatic sprinkler system to support the environment of the Cathedral. As Helmut Seehawer advised, air movement is essential and we are using wire netting on the lower section to allow for wind movement. Helmut has also suggested we use as much natural forest compost as possible.

By the end of the year, the REGUA orchid cathedral will be open to the public, an addition to the existing trail network revealing the jewels of the forest.            

REGUA’s 4th and 5th RPPN areas go ahead

We are very pleased to announce that the formal documents including Geo-referenced maps have been handed to the INEA (RJ State Institute of the Environment) for validation.

The papers were presented as part of the process to guarantee the long term protection for REGUA’s forests and biodiversity.

RRPN 5 comprises 97 hectares of the lower slopes of the Serra do Mar mountains (© N Locke)

REGUA already has three RPPN’s areas totalling 367 hectares and these two extra reserve parcels will more than double the area under this permanent protection. Short of giving the land to make a National Park, Private Reserve (RPPN) status is the best tool for long term conservation, and offers donors the possibility of acquiring land and guaranteeing its permanent protection.

Under full protection status, only activities in research, tourism and education are permitted. The effect in planning and transparency raises REGUA’s profile and the ambition to become the largest RPPN owner in the state of Rio de Janeiro.

One of the conditions to create RPPN is that the property is fully forested, and REGUA’s reforestation programme is currently completing two projects that will enable REGUA to become the second largest RPPN owner in the state by next year. 

INEA geographer Evelyn de Castro is conferring GPS location

SavingNature capturing the beauty of REGUA

When Brian Rodgers came to visit in June, he brought his drone with a new lens that promised great opportunities.   The drone offers remarkable views that can really capture the beauty of the landscape here at REGUA, it is also a very necessary tool to help us understand the importance of the conservation work going on.    

Ryan, Ian and Brian (© REGUA)

Supported by SavingNature, Brian arrived with two students Ian Handler and Ryan Huang from Duke University, in North Carolina, USA.   Their plan was to help set up camera traps, in strategic places around the reserve, and also to continue their scientific research at the Golden Lion Tamarin project in Silva Jardim. 

Brian helped REGUA secure the Vecchi land corridor last year, an important strategic purchase to link the Vecchi ridgeline with Onofre Cunha, land which REGUA already owns and protects.   Brian was delighted to see the progress we are making in planting this pasture land to create a forested link.

Drone image of the Guapiaçu Watershed (&copy SavingNature)

Rio Bird Club’s Annual Visit

On 27th October each year, Rio de Janeiro Bird Club gathered at REGUA for the annual event at REGUA. The previous day many birders visited the Três Picos Park and then arrived to stay overnight at REGUA and explore the Reserve on the following day.

The event was a real success with 76 birders participating and 242 bird species seen. REGUA took birders on the green trail to see the Shrike-like Cotinga and to Waldenoor to see the Long-tailed Potoo, both enigmatic birds that can be tough to see anywhere else. 

Some of the Rio Bird Club members (© REGUA)

The event raises awareness and offers an opportunity for REGUA to show its conservation efforts and biodiversity protection.

We already look forward to welcoming the club at next years event!  

Birdfair

The Birdfair was in full swing this time last week, and REGUA had an amazing time. Many friends came along to find out the latest news of the project and we kept in touch here in Brazil via messages and photographs. Our UK team received vital help over the weekend, so a big REGUA “thank you” to Alan, Sue, Stuart, Ken, Tracy and Ian, who gave their time.

Birdfair Stand (© REGUA)

Everyone who visited our stand showing continued interest and support in the project really makes a difference and keeps us pushing forward with new impetus to protect and restore more land.

Without our amazing team of workers, volunteers, visitors, donors and support from so many people across the globe we would not have been able to achieve so much in so short a time. You are all playing a vital role in continuing to build the reputation and success of REGUA.


Zoology “freshmen” at REGUA

REGUA is delighted to offer its premises to a number of Universities in Rio de Janeiro.

The most recent group, Zoology 2019, arrived from Rio de Janeiro Federal University. These students, starting their first term, have come to REGUA for their four day field course.

REGUA offers full board accommodation and the Reserve gains a chance to receive these young minds and an opportunity to explain the purposes of the project. The students gain a safe place to be introduced to the world of science.  

Students working hard in the laboratory

A perfect match and we trust these youngsters will take their skills and remember their time here and contribute to conservation in some way in their professional lives in the future.         

Restoration is the way forward!

One of our UK supporters recently sent me a link that brought attention to this article produced on the Nature Research organisation website. The paper was written by four British experts who, in their view, state that carbon storage can only be long term effectively reached through planting native forests of mixed species.

They studied the results of the BONN challenge (IUCN and German Government), planting  20 million trees to combat climate change, and noted that efforts have been concentrated in three core activities; single species timber forestry, area abandonment and agroforestry. Their conclusion is that the net effect of these actions is not the same as planting forests of mixed species. The authors conclude existing forest protection, ecoservice payments and investments in natural forest restoration for biodiversity are the only long term solutions to store carbon effectively and combat climate change.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01776-5

Our friend Robin Chazdon (who has visited REGUA a couple of times) and other eminent experts recently published a paper on the same website, titled “Forests, when natural regeneration is unrealistic” in response to this article and their view that single species forestry and agroforestry cannot be dismissed as a means to reach to meet the global temperature reduction targets. They call for innovative practices and policies to reach to long term solutions and draw attention to the socio-economic demands and benefits, that old interface of community and our natural world.

https//www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01026-8

The REGUA team restoring hillsides

This is yet more evidence, to encourage us to continue in our goal to protect, regenerate and restore the forests in our part of the Atlantic forest and to work with local communities, encouraging others to join in this vital project.



It takes a Team!

A conservation project of this dimension is not possible without constant support from a whole team. In REGUA’s case some of our team are based in the UK.  

The UK team, led by Alan Martin include Lee Dingain, Rachel Walls and Sue Healey. They have been a pillar of strength to this project. All volunteers, they started by visiting REGUA to see birds and were smitten by the REGUA bug; a desire to get involved and ensure the continuation of this project.

Sue, Lee, Alan and Rachel at 2018 British Birdfair (© REGUA)

It seems only yesterday we first met them and within a couple of days they were asking how they could help. With zillions of contributions, Alan with his experience in business administration, Lee with website skills, Rachel who runs our volunteer programme, and Sue with her communication skills, this incredible team has helped increase the capacity of REGUA to promote its work.

Today these efforts are responsible for its international success. The team have also been promoting REGUA and our steady progress over the last twelve years at the British Bird Fair, so go along and see the latest updates at this years fair at Rutland Water Leicestershire, Marquee 8, Stand 12 from 16th to 18th August 2019.

You can follow the progress of our project here on our website, or follow the links below to our Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Every visitor is welcome at REGUA and your time here contributes to its perpetuity.

All of us at REGUA wish to thank the volunteer team who have devoted so much time to this project and continue to shine in every respect.         

Nicholas, Raquel and Thomas

Not a Praying Mantis!

Jorge Bizarro REGUA’s Research Co-ordinator and Lepidopterist recently found this interesting creature. We initially thought it was a Mantis and sent the photograph through to our friends in the Projeto Mantis Research Group.

Leo Lanna from the team sent back his excited reply:

“This is amazing find and actually, it is not a praying mantis! I know it looks just like a Mantis, but it actually belongs to another insect order, the Neuroptera. The family pays homage to mantises – it is called Mantispidae – and they are an amazing example of convergent evolution. This means that different evolution pressures led them to develop similar structures. They do hunt with their raptorials, like mantises, but you can notice some differences, especially the way they fold their wings, which are located on the sides of the animal, not over it. The wings are also more translucid.

Mantispidae (© R Locke)

Take a look at the eyes too. Mantispidae always have a beautiful, coloured pattern when you take a picture with flash, like a star or rainbow. Mantises have plain compound eyes with the fake pupil effect, not this colourful one.

We usually find a green, tiny species, from genus Zeugomantispa. We once found a huge one at Tijuca Forest, from genus Climaciella, but neither look like this one.

Thanks for sharing these findings!”

What a great find, on reading more I found that Mantispidae are also known as Mantid lacewings or mantis-flies in some parts of the world.

Thanks also to Leo and his team for encouraging us to continue to research the amazing creatures of the forests at REGUA.

Butterflies of REGUA

Robert Locke is visiting us at REGUA and we know how he enjoys taking photographs of butterflies, an interest that he has enjoyed for many years.

Two species he found and photographed recently are Paulogramma pygas (previously Callicore) also known as Pygas eighty-eight and Dynamine postverta, also known as Four-spot Sailor.

P. pygas showing the “88” on the underwing (© R Locke)

P. pygas is restricted to much of high altitude South America. Its common name refers to the underside of the wing which shows an “88” shape in the pattern.

D. postverta, is restricted to much of western lowland South America, preferring woodlands and farmland.

Both are beautiful butterfly species and both male and female will be featured in a new book currently being prepared on the Butterflies of the Serra dos Órgãos, the surrounding mountain range to REGUA and one of the most biodiverse regions of Brazil.

The Serra dos Órgãos mountains range is a biodiversity hotspot and REGUA is considered to be a very well preserved and protected area within this range.

As we continue to increase the area under our protection, creating corridors for wildlife and strengthening the range of trees planted, we are securing the future for all its inhabitants. These two wonderful species of butterfly are part of the beauty to be found here.

D. posverta male (© R. Locke)

Should you like to visit REGUA and take photographs that could be featured in the Butterflies of the Serra dos Órgãos publication, we would be very happy to receive you!