Having children visit is what keeps REGUA going, for they are the ones that one day will inherit the responsibility of caring for this World.
The Rio de Janeiro Miraflores bilingual school made their 7thannual visit this year, expressing their keenness to learn about Nature and helping to plant native trees.
Miraflores’ School’s director Luiz makes sure that this event is given the right importance for he sees in this excursion, an activity that awakens the pupils to environmental responsibility. This year REGUA received 65 children between the age of 6 and 7, divided them into smaller groups to walk them around the reserve showing flora and fauna, from insects to reptiles and mammals to the trees growing. Being a bilingual school they demand the talking in English enjoyed by all. They visit the nursery, fill the individual plant bags, plant seeds and transfer seedlings to understand what is involved in the entire process to start a forest.
Their walk shows that forests can be started and provide habitat for a multitude of species. They feel responsible and connected, and learn that restoration is only about effort.
The school has been visiting annually since 2011 and I always remind them that they are the reason why we want to continue planting trees. It is a true privilege too offers these children the opportunity of sharing this unique experience here at REGUA.
Thank you Luiz for providing the opportunity to share our work with you; your staff and your children.
Gabriela Viana is a dedicated conservationist who has helped project REGUA with her knowledge, experience and dedication. Gabriela lives in the municipality of Cachoeiras de Macacu just 15 miles away from REGUA, and her professional life led her to work at the Golden Lion Tamarin project, ITPA and IBIO, all successful conservation organizations in Rio de Janeiro State.
Gabriela helped REGUA develop its Agenda 21 action plan in 2005, and she always wanted to work and further conservation efforts in this municipality. When Petrobras signalled its interest to fund a project, Gabriella came to our rescue and helped write a proposal, but after two unsuccessful attempts we were less keen to submit a third.
With much insistence Gabriela then suggested we focus our expertise on compounding our education and reforestation programmes, and she prepared a project based on those two lines. We were ecstatic that out of 600 projects submitted, REGUA was approved and the overall results were considered excellent by Petrobras, leading to an invitation to submit a sequel last year.
REGUA then introduced an important component along with education and restoration; that of monitoring water quality engaging local school children. Not only was this perceived as important by Petrobras, but it sparked off a huge awareness by the local population of the importance of water quality for its towns. This led to a photographic competition that resulted in further promotion of the project.
Gabriela is the personification of dedication, quality and perseverance and she was recently head-hunted by WWF to direct their “threatened” species programme. Gabriela helped put REGUA on the map and believed in the capability of her team. She taught us quality and style in the quest for project results that have shaped REGUA into a major player in the local Conservation world of Rio de Janeiro.
A big thank-you Gabriela for the time you have dedicated to REGUA.
Last week REGUA received Igor Camacho in the company of Ian Thompson, Conservation director for The Nature Conservancy, Brazil to successfully see the Shrike-like Cotinga amongst many local specialities.
Ian’s stay provided us with the opportunity to discuss our own objectives and plans. We understand that most International agencies prefer providing funds to establish parks in Partner countries as opposed to supporting local NGOs buying land.
The former takes a fraction of the cost but on the other hand, NGOs understand the importance of engaging at local level, with their local communities, providing employment and raising awareness, all as a result of their own personal commitment.
Though decreeing parks is an important step taken by Governments, often those areas become “paper parks” allowing occupation, hunting and farming to continue. Nature’s protection can be hard to enforce in these situations and NGOS are squeezed out of their stewardship role.
South East Brazil’s most successful Young Ranger course has celebrated its 12th anniversary.
It is aimed at the younger segment of our local communities and offers young children a glimpse into our own vision of the world, that of conservation. We want to show them why we need to protect Nature here and how we do so.
If they can understand that they live in one of the most bio-diverse Hotspots in the globe and that REGUA wants to share this with them, then we have helped instil the concept of responsibility. It has been a brilliant 12 years with super results and it’s a programme that all sister conservation projects could offer.
P.S. I well remember a group of friends visiting the Reserve in May 2006, agreeing to help with your new Educational project. They took telescopes down to the Wetland to meet our first group of Young Rangers. The children had never really had the opportunity to look at birds and the excitement could be heard back at the lodge as they looked at different species and delighted in trying to understand their English names. The current Young Rangers are studying and monitoring the quality of the water in the wetlands, are keen to explore the forests in the area and understand far more about the importance of protecting the area they live in. They still love to practice their English too!
The Tapir re-introduction team comes to Regua on a weekly basis to check on the well-being of the Tapirs and to talk to community neighbours about this project.
The Young Rangers were thrilled to hear from Joana the Education Officer from the Tapir Reintroduction programme, that the Tapirs are becoming more independent from the food provided for them and that they are moving further away from the release-pen as each day goes by.
Prof. Carlos and the young rangers will be visiting the local villages of Guapiaçú, Santo Amaro, Areal, Matumbo and Estreito to inform the communities on the positive development of this pioneering project.
A windy and cloudy Saturday full of activities as the Education Officers of the Guapiaçu Grande Vida team held a student training course.
They are being taught to use the water-monitoring kit which they will use in the Macacu and Guapiaçu rivers. Arriving in the morning for breakfast they left after lunch with a certificate acknowledging they had completed this twenty hour course in three sessions.
The syllabus included topics such as river basin management, mapping, environmental education and it’s relevance as a tool for conservation, use of trails and open public areas with an educational approach, water cycle and water sampling for physical and chemical analysis.
Another successful day with enthusiastic students and tutors.
Guapiaçu Grande Vida (GGV) Petrobrás funded project is back at REGUA!
On September 11th the GGV team gathered at REGUA to start the work which will be carried out during the next two years.
With the restoration of a further 60 hectares of degraded land and the monitoring of water quality in the Guapiaçú and Macacu rivers (at six fixed points in both rivers upstream and downstream), the GGV project aims at contributing to the safeguarding of a healthy forest ecosystem and fresh water availability for human consumption.
The innovation of the GGV second phase is the inclusion of Cachoeiras de Macacu County Council as a formal partner with the assignment of a teacher and a biologist to assist the GGV Environmental Education staff.
The GGV official launch took place on September 21st at the County Council headquarters in Cachoeiras de Macacu town. Petrobras representatives, local authorities including the Council´s Mayor and civil society representatives attended the ceremony.
The GGV monitoring of 100 hectares planted in 2013 will be included as part of the forest restoration programme. A training course for this purpose will be held for the tree-planting staff at REGUA’s Conservation Centre. Growth rates and biomass are to be measured by the students.
The GGV Environmental Education programme based on the monitoring of water quality in the Guapiaçú and Macacu rivers will select 40 students from one County Council run school and one State run school in Cachoeiras de Macacu town. The selected group of students are currently undertaking their first and second year of secondary school level education. The students will be selected according to their grades and their interest to take part in this innovative water quality monitoring of the Guapiaçú and Macacu rivers. The GGV Environmental Education team will use rented vehicles to transport the students from their schools to the water monitoring sites.
The Environmental Education programme will also organize a teacher training course and a training course for nature guides. These two courses envision the use of the wetland trails maximising their educational potential for school and group visits.
SavingSpecies is a US based charity led by Stuart Pimm and Clinton Jenkins. These are the finest conservation biologists, internationally respected for championing the environment. Stuart and Clinton visited together with a potential donor who may help us acquire an important piece of land to integrate REGUA.
Stuart and Clinton were also visited by UERJ ornithologist Maria Alice Alves who had helped them predict the location of the Grey-winged Cotinga on the mountain tops close by. They also had a chance to hear the conservation status of the Patagonian Hooded Grebe as explained by volunteers Bob and Gaitlin from the US.
The evening conversations flowed and subjects ranged from project development to vision building and funding capacity.
We need “hands-on” locally run environmental projects protecting threatened species and REGUA is all about habitat protection and has been able to include its local communities in the responsibility of the needed conservation work. There is hope!
On August 24th, Regua hosted the Inaugural RPPN(*) or “Reserva Particular do Patrimônio Natural” Scientific Seminar in Rio de Janeiro state.
INEA – Rio de Janeiro State Environmental Agency – encourages land owners to create their own private reserves which are officially recognized by the state government. RPPN status allows no direct use of the land but allows activities such as environmental education, sustainable tourism and scientific research to be carried out. Much of REGUA’s land has been granted RPPN status and three new areas were finalised last August.
There were over 100 participants attending the event that started in the morning and continued until the evening.
Studies on forest ecology, flora and fauna inventories were presented to a very interested audience.
Land owners, university professors, undergraduates, post graduates, state and municipal authorities enjoyed this seminar which enriched everyone´s knowledge on the Atlantic Forest.
*The nearest English translation would be Private Natural Heritage Reserve
We were fortunate to receive birders David Nemazie and René Santos at REGUA recently. David is chief of staff for Environmental Science at University of Maryland USA, and René is a super bird guide who brought him here.
The State of Maryland is twinned with the State of Rio de Janeiro with both Chesapeake Bay and Rio’s Guanabara Bay having geographical and environmental similarities. Both coastal bays have similar environmental issues due to large populations and associated problems with waste water treatment, storm water, and habitat degradation.
In 2014, the Governor of the State of Rio concerned with the Olympics in 2016 approached Maryland’s governor and asked him and the University for guidance in cleaning Rio’s Bay following their success. Rio’s governor obtained support from INEA (RJ Environmental State Agency), UFRJ (RJ University) and other partners to provide the first step, the elaboration of the “Guanabara Bay Report Card”
It now is up to all of us to engage the wider public with programmes in awareness and education to help the Government define priorities and actions that will contribute to a better care for our Guanabara Bay, home to river dolphins and seahorses.