The Rio de Janeiro Birding Calender for 2017 successfully kicked off on March 11th and 12th at REGUA.
Some 30 local birders came to enjoy the wetlands and waterfall trail. An early start, followed by Cirilo’s guiding enabled many first time birders to walk the yellow trail and see many of the over 180 species found in this habitat.
There were ample opportunities to present the work that REGUA has been devoted to and the project’s future plans.
People are always very receptive and positive and the end of the day was filled with promises of return visits and future enjoyment.
Rio’s State Environmental Institute (INEA) organized a summer training course called “Trail Guiding” whose target audience were participants from the local areas of Cachoeiras de Macacu and Guapimirim. Thirty people enrolled in this course including REGUA’s young ranger Miguel – just shows how inspiring REGUA can be!
The aim is to prepare local guides to help visitors at the Três Picos Park and Natural Park at Macacu. The guides love nature and need to gain experience, knowledge and confidence to show visitors all the beauty and diversity of the Atlantic Forest.
Part of the course covers Bird guiding, and as Regua’s guides have become well known for their skill and knowledge, we were happy to host the birdwatching event around our restored wetlands. Adilei de Carvalho and Cirilo Vieira, Regua’s bird guides, were in charge of the training, giving a talk on what birding is about and showed them some of the most representative lowland species in the wetlands.
Miguel Ferreira de Conceição is a young lad from the local community of Matumbo who has a passion for nature.
He comes from a humble background and is now 21 years old, but since joining the Young Ranger programme seven years ago, he found his desire for the future – wanting to work in tourism.
REGUA’s resident teacher Professor Carlos has always been supportive and encouraged him, and a month ago Miguel participated in a test that offered opportunities for a professional “Park visitor guide” course organized by the State Government Institute (INEA).
We were all thrilled that of the 50 applicants, Miguel took third place; a testimony to the value and contribution of REGUA’s Young Ranger programme.
Miguel has started the course and is rightly proud of his achievements. It is rewarding and very satisfying for us to see direct life-changing benefits that can reach deep into other people lives.
REGUA’s Young Rangers programme has been very successful this year with a huge participation by local adolescents.
REGUA’S teacher, locally known as ‘Professor Carlos’ has divided the entire group of 30 children into two age groups helping to keep them focused on the subjects he believes important.
This year marked its 11th anniversary and the results could not be more positive.
The aim of the programme is to remind the children that not only do they live in a precious environment but they are responsible for its care. The weekly visits to REGUA provide opportunities for lessons in the environment, social development punctuated with walks and visits, activities in the local community, lectures by resident researchers and excursions. The Young Rangers love it and every year increasingly more children want to join the programme.
REGUA have been invited to attend meetings of the Eastern Bay of Guanabara Watershed Committee (held in Niteroi city) which is gaining momentum and reputation. The Group discuss and plan the future requirements of water use for the general public, government and industry.
This is an important committee to have representation in, as the concept of payments for ecological services is gradually being discussed and could possibly soon be implemented. REGUA may be eligible for future payments as we protect the water of the Guapiaçu river and restore forests in the watershed.
Raquel Locke, REGUA’s Vice President and Lorena an independent mapping consultant working with REGUA, will attend these meetings. The Rio de Janeiro Government accepts and understands the strategic importance of the eastern Guanabara bay area for the provision of clean drinking water to eastern Rio de Janeiro and its metropolitan areas.
The Guapiaçu and Macacu rivers have their sources in Cachoeiras de Macacu Municipality. Together they provide water to over 3.5 million people in Metropolitan Rio de Janeiro and the inclusion of REGUA within this initiative enables us to encourage the replication of our model within this vital area.
REGUA’s collaboration in the Guapiaçu Grande Vida Project brought many long-term advantages to the Reserve. A team made up of professionals with experience in project management, forest engineering, public engagement, education from school to local authority level, mapping, publicity and media promotion. All had roots in the municipality and together were able to develop and implement a project that took REGUA into the main stream of conservation work in Brazil.
During the two and a half years of the project, GGV was a tremendous success. Planting 100 hectares of Atlantic Forest with 180,000 trees, mapping almost half the 450km ² watershed, consolidating an education programme involving 5,000 school children and responsible for REGUA’s first scientific seminar with 50 works amongst University researchers.
The project helped upscale REGUA’s capacity in forest restoration, fostered an understanding of the municipal’s environmental importance and enabled REGUA to identify land use and forest cover, which in turn helped prioritize areas for further land purchase. The project terminated at the end of 2015, but we are grateful for their contribution.
The team, although dispersed, continues to be active. Gabriela now works for German development bank GIZ, promoting development work across Brazil, she also runs her own environmental consultancy. Tatiana and Bruno have returned to teaching. Nathalie is working in tourism in her own lodge.
Lorena is an independent geographer and continues to have ties with REGUA, representing the institution at the Guanabara Watershed Committee and Agenda 21 meetings. Aline is a freelance Forestry Engineer working with REGUA to design new planting areas and continuing to monitor previous reforestation areas.
Professor Carlos works at REGUA on a part-time basis, expanding our Schools Outreach and Young Ranger programmes whilst Ana Caroline has joined the staff continuing to give REGUA her best in the office.
REGUA is very grateful for their input and proud to be able to play a part in the continued success of these valued friends and welcome their support in the future.
One of the most rewarding parts of REGUA’s work is being able to bring real change to the local community. Two people have really changed the future for their family, by using the skills they have used and enhanced whilst working for the project.
Sandra Aparecida started working at REGUA before the lodge was built, and started off looking after the first researchers who stayed at Casa Pesquisa (House of Research). Sandra then worked with Raquel Locke, building a range of dishes which were based on the local recipes. For over a decade Sandra worked with the team of ladies at the lodge preparing delicious meals for our guests. Today, she is running a family restaurant in the local village of Matumbo with her husband.
Jossué Ouverney Heringer joined the project in 2002, and worked as REGUA’s driver and handyman. Using the skills he honed from maintaining the Lodge, Conservation Centre and keeping REGUA’s vehicles on the road, he has built a shop in Matumbo, and set up a motorbike repair shop which also sells drinks, and snacks made by Jossue’s wife.
REGUA would like to thank both Sandra and Jossué for all their hard work and commitment and wish them both great success in their new ventures.