Last month REGUA secured yet another small property within the Lagoinha farm located at 600 metres above sea level with breath-taking views down the valley.
Though located within the Fatorelli farm and inside the Três Picos Park, Carlinho had acquired the occupational rights twelve years ago and over the years had made two simple houses and some plantations. The opportunity of securing this area helps reduce the pressure within the valley and Carlinho was very happy to invest in another property elsewhere.
REGUA has the mission to secure as much forest as possible and the purchase of the Fatorelli title revealed 10 owners in the property with occupational rights.
REGUA is slowly working to compensate those farmers like Carlinho wishing to vacate and allow the forests of this beautiful valley to return.
Thanks to Rainforest Trust for donating the funds for this purchase.
The amazing thing about planting trees is that they will grow with a little effort, dedication and perseverance.
The area of the Matumbo Gap acquired by the Danish Travel Fund is an example of such an area. Planted in early 2017, the area a year later has already closed and the grass has virtually gone, crowded out by the strong saplings as they drink up the generous Brazilian rainfall throughout the summer, and grow towards our sunlight .
REGUA planted over 25,000 trees in this area some of which were also funded by the World Land Trust’s “Forests of the Future” initiative.
The mix of over 150 native species are growing very well and REGUA has engaged the Rio Rural University in monitoring plant plots to measure growth.
REGUA and the Fatorelli family signed the deeds to the Lagoinha valley on 14th January 2018, at long last completed this delicate land purchase. The Rainforest Trust has not only been totally supportive but also very generous and patient, helping us to maintain the calm and vigour required during the entire period of negotiation. This has been one of the most complex and delicate land deals we have been engaged in, but through gentle persistence we managed to secure the property at an affordable value. I still feel fairly faint with the completion of this ultra-sensitive land purchase.
The story behind the scenes is really of soap opera magnitude. The Fatorelli property has a title that extends over the entire Lagoinha valley and this valley is located between two adjacent tracts of Atlantic Forest. Since the 1940s the property has been occupied by 40 tenant farmers working and living off the land. They have simple houses and undertake slash and burn agriculture causing serious habitat damage, some still hunt and the impact on the valley’s biodiversity is severe and one in conflict with REGUA’s objectives.
Over recent years farmers’ interests have declined and many wish to leave the valley and follow their family, moving to the nearby towns.
Tenant rights in Brazil are transferable and outsiders can buy plots on which to build second homes, attracting opportunistic local city dwellers to the area. The construction of second houses attracts others and ultimately poses a problem for the long term conservation aims of the Guapiaçu watershed along with many other areas of the world.
Limited energy and vehicle access are two factors that have helped reduce the threat locally up to now, but the availability of cheap plots and desire for second homes can abruptly change the scenario. This has been seen in the more accessible areas around the village of Guapiaçu in just the last decade.
Following the successful World Land Trust sponsored ‘Matumbo Gap’ land purchase, REGUA has addressed this issue, sought support and reached fair agreements to compensate those occupying the land and enabling them to vacate their properties. This gives REGUA the opportunity to protect the forest and allow it to recover.
REGUA is home to 11 species classified by the IUCN as Threatened – Brown-backed Parrotlet, White-necked Hawk, Golden-tailed Parrotlet, White-bearded Antshrike, Salvadori’s Antwren, Fork-tailed Tody-Tyrant, Russet-winged Spadebill, Bare-throated Bellbird, Black-backed Tanager, Buffy-fronted and Temminck’s Seedeaters are all classified as Vulnerable. A further 26 species at REGUA are classified as Near-Threatened further 28 bird species at REGUA are classified as near-threatened. In addition it is home to several troops of Southern Woolly Spider Monkey or Muriqui Brachyteles arachnoides South America’s largest and rarest primate classified as endangered. Many of these species are decreasing in number giving more urgency to the purchase and protection of the remaining Atlantic Forest.
In theory reserves and parks should not have houses or people living within their limits, but when protected areas are established with tenant farmers already living within, the Government prefers to avoid confrontation and circumnavigates issues permitting tenants to continue their lives and activities on site until they are ready to move.
Tenant farmers are protected by law yet do not have deeds with which to prove ownership. By openly negotiating with the families, explaining the aims and arriving at favourable agreements, the Fatorelli case is felt to be a key success story for the conservation movement in this country.
REGUA’s new full time ranger will regularly walk the Lagoinha valley and REGUA will continue to offer opportunities to those wishing to change their home for one closer to their families. The REGUA reserve continues to expand and guarantee an immense forested corridor to benefit its fauna and flora diversity. This is triumph for the conservation world and shows that sensitive conflict areas occupied by humans can be solved.
After many months of negotiations several important pieces of land were finally successfully negotiated with former Lagoinha valley land owners during 2017. REGUA has been slowly acquiring land in the Lagoinha valley to consolidate a forested corridor between the Primatology reserve and REGUA land.
The valley has been traditionally farmed for over a century and many years ago it was considered inconceivable that REGUA could even embark on the challenging process of acquiring the land owned by over 50 families for the purpose of conservation. Ownership was identified, property limits mapped and the acquisition of each property was negotiated with each of its owners. What appeared a dream many years ago is now reality and REGUA has acquired over 25 small holdings that will now be permanently protected. This has a been a real success story and much is owed to REGUA ranger Messias whose grandfather once owned this large farm as well as his brother Claudio.
REGUA wishes to thank its benefactors Urs Peter and Lindsay Bury who once again provided the valuable funds and with matched funding from Rainforest Trust we secured another area in this precious habitat.
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!
In partnership with the World Land Trust, REGUA has launched a campaign to raise funds to purchase a highly threatened area of Atlantic Forest located in the Guapiaçu Valley.
Called Paloma Coelho, this 89.5 hectare (221 acre) area of high quality forest is under threat from hunting and deforestation, threatening the survival of the rich flora and fauna found here. In addition the property protects the streams that feed the Guapiaçu River, an important water supply for the local community.
The most effective way to conserve this important area of forest is for REGUA to purchase the land and incorporate it into the reserve. The Olympic Forest Reserve Appeal aims to raise £40,000 to enable this to become a reality. Please help us save this forest by making a donation.