Category Archives: Reforestation

What a difference a year makes!

It’s amazing how things can change in a year.   It’s just over a year since I was last at REGUA, and so much has happened.

Most noticeable to the lodge visitor is the tapir release project where  five Lowland or Brazilian Tapir (Tapirus Terrestris) have been released at the nearby wetlands, they often make the short trip up to the lodge garden.   It is surreal to see guests at night photographing moths at the moth wall, with a rather large mammal wandering past on its evening patrol, both seemingly unaware of the other.

Tapir in our restored wetland area (© Sue Healey)

The Tapir have managed to get food off the garden feeding stations so a suspended higher-level table has now been made.   The Common Marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) were a little perplexed initially but soon mastered the art of a trapeze-style dash across the wires.   Some continue the more traditional approach – head first down a nearby tree.

The lodge orchid garden continues to develop, and with ferns and bromeliads amongst the rocks it makes a breeding area for house wren and feeding area for hummingbirds, the lantana and milkweed are doing well, again both favourites with the hummingbirds.

Other changes may not directly affect our lodge guests but they are making a huge difference to local visitors, including school visits, with a new car park by the conservation centre – hopefully no more buses getting stuck in the mud!   A new accessible trail has been created to Amanda’s hide, bringing opportunities where previously it would have been impossible for some people to enjoy the delights of the wetlands.

On the project itself, we reached the milestone figure of 500,000 trees planted and continue to plant – over 69,000 trees were planted in the 2017/18 planting season alone, thanks to the generous donations from many of our supporters.

Wouldn’t one million trees planted be a great figure to reach in the future!

With more key land areas coming under REGUA’s care, increased wildlife corridors are being protected and created in the Guapiaçu catchment area.   This will extend the range for many species of wildlife and enable them to strengthen in population, increase genetic diversity and increase the overall biodiversity of the valley.

Restored and reforested wetland area (© Sue Healey)

Our Rangers continue to patrol the forest, adding security and monitoring the wildlife, whilst there has been a huge reduction in hunting in the area since the project began, we cannot stop our vigilance even though there is very little evidence of hunting seen or heard now.

If you would like to support REGUA’s work, full details on how to make a donation are available from our “donate” page here.

If you would like to volunteer, please see our link here for full details.

Tribute to GGV Gabriela Viana

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 with her team (front centre) (© Nicholas Locke)

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.

GGV Team relaxing with Nicholas and Raquel Locke (© Jorge Bizarro)

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.

Tree Planting 2017/18

The REGUA nursery team composed of Barata, Mauricio, Diamoneli and forester Aline Damasceno successfully produced the 50,000 trees as part of the Petrobras Socioambiental  funded project, also referred to as Guapiaçu Grande Vida or GGV.

Planting over 100 species of native tree species is a good average and seeds are sourced in the nearby forests.

The annual planting season is between November and March taking advantage of the summer rains.  The year 2018 has been “La Ninha” providing us with the necessary rains and plant mortality has been very low.

Diamoneli, Aline, Mauricio and Barata (L-R) (© REGUA)

The area on which the trees were planted is the enormous “Pai velho” REGUA reserve hillside. Its steepness has required enormous effort by the team but we are happy to announce that we are close to ending the planting there.

However, it hasn’t ended yet, for REGUA wishes to plant a further 20,000 trees this season and by the end of the next planting season we will top our half a million tree mark!!

Well done team!

Danish Travel Fund land is forested

Ready to plant 2017 (© Nicholas Locke)

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.

January 2018 (© Nicholas Locke)

Introducing the GGV II Team

GGV II Team (© Raquel Locke)

Introducing the Guapiaçu Grande Vida Team for their second project at REGUA.  Following the successful reforestation of 100 hectares of cattle pasture along the edge of the River Guapiaçu in 2013-15, the second project is now underway.

This time a 60 hectare plot is being planted, on steep and highly eroded land along the road on the way to our Waldenoor Trail.

From left to right, they are:
Patrick, Environmental Education Officer
Carol, Financial Administration Officer
Nathalie, Social Media Officer
Aline, Forest Restoration Officer
Tatiana, Environmental Education co-ordinator
Gabriela, GGV project co-ordinator
Lorena, Geographic Information Systems Officer
Carlos, Environmental Education Officer

Guapiaçu Grande Vida Project – Update

The latest news on our second GGV Project from REGUA’s Vice-President, Raquel Locke:

The much expected rain has finally arrived and the entire landscape has been relieved from a near two-month drought.

REGUA’s Nursery with trees ready to be planted (© Aline Damasceno de Azevedo)

The GGV Petrobras funded project aims at restoring a further 60 hectares of degraded land with native trees over a two-year period. (The first project restored 100 hectares).

On average, 1667 trees will be planted per hectare by a team of six Rangers who are very keen to start with their work.    An array of 100 native Atlantic Forest tree species will be planted in this area.    Tree matrices in REGUA´s forests provide the template for our planting of species.

The young trees are grown in REGUA’s nursery.   The seeds are carefully brought down from the forest by our nursery staff.   Once in the nursery, seeds are either stored or sown in seed beds according to their characteristics and demands.

It is interesting to note that some tree species need shade all through their time in the nursery, whilst other species need half or full exposure to sunlight.  Their pioneer, early secondary, late secondary and climax species characteristics dictate these requirements.

The rainy season heralds the start of our planting season, beginning in October and ending late March.

Degraded Hillside where the young trees will be planted (©Aline Damasceno de Azevedo)

Staff and tree saplings will be transported to the planting sites which are on average some six kilometres from REGUA´s Conservation Centre.

The much-improved road access to Pai Velho area in Areal vicinity has just been completed which should make the task more efficient.

Raquel Locke

Guapiaçu Grande Vida Project – Phase II

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.

Degraded Hillside to be planted (©Aline Damasceno de Azevedo)

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.

Latest news from Kaitlin and Bobby

Kaitlin and Bobby are currently volunteering at REGUA.   Their main project is to help Adilei and Cirilo show the wonderful bird- and wild-life to visitors, but they still find time to do some exploring . . .

“Today Bobby and I were asked to survey a potential trail that winds through an area reforested in 2011-12 with the help of Petrobras.    We were amazed to see such a dramatic amount of growth for such a short amount of time, as well as the diversity of tree species used to jumpstart this section of forest which was once open pasture.    Most of the trees were well above our heads!

Bobby with the trees! (© Kaitlin Murphy)

It was a hot and sunny day, which can effect bird activity, but we still managed to count over 40 bird species using the area already!   It will be exciting to see how species composition changes as the forest progresses. 

Kaitlin, volunteer bird guide”

If you’re interested in volunteering at REGUA check out our Volunteer page 

Long-billed Wren

Walking by the wetlands at REGUA along the Yellow or Brown trail, a small bird can surprise many with its fierce song of bravado.

One has to peer through the tangles of brush to catch a glimpse of the melodious Long-billed Wren (Cantorchilus longirostris), one of the Atlantic Rainforest endemic species. Though the call is well known, its intensity is surprising but it is merely reminding us that we are entering his territory.

Long-billed Wren (© Adilei Carvalho da Cunha)

The Yellow and Brown trails at REGUA pass through the middle of replanted lowland forest, and the presence of this species indicates the forest has provided a new home for many avian species.

This is what we want, a new habitat we created that now provides many new homes for its true inhabitants.

REGUA’s Trees are reaching for the Sky!

We are delighted to report that the donation from the Danish Travel Fund that led to the acquisition of Anderson’s property in 2014 has resulted in a dramatic change within the Matumbo Valley.

The highly degraded and eroded area is on the road towards the Waldenoor trail on the way to Matumbo.   Until last year cattle were being grazed there and it is amazing how quickly birds and insects come into land after planting.

REGUA planted 25,000 native trees on this 13 hectare site between November 2016 and January 2017 and the weather has been most favourable.

The trees are growing very well.   Thank you Danish Travel Fund for helping to acquire this strategically important area and to the World Land Trust through their “Plant a tree Fund” for financing the tree planting.

Pai Velho July 2017 (© Nicholas Locke)
Pai Velho November 2016 (© Nicholas Locke)