Category Archives: Restoration

Thor’s Project – part 3

Thor has returned from the north of Brazil, and revisited REGUA and his cuttings in our nursery on his way home to Canada.

Marianeira cuttings (acnistus arborescens)

Talking to him about the progress of his project made interesting conversation.   He enjoyed the whole experience of being in Brazil, and making new friends at REGUA and found his time with us an excellent opportunity to learn about different techniques of tropical forestation.   From helping in the nursery, planting the seeds in prepared pots to planting the trees, Thor took on board the whole process.

He particularly enjoyed his time walking with Mauricio [head nurseryman] and Barata [forest ranger] in the forest, collecting seeds and trying to identify the myriad of  tree species.

As for his project – to experiment with taking tree cuttings rather than germinating seeds.   Thor has just re-checked his samples.  Although they were probably not take at the ideal time of year there were at least a dozen new plants from the Marianeira (acnistus arborescens) species  and a couple of Tabebuia cassinoides.

Thor plans to return at a different time of year and next time maybe use hormone rooting powder.    As he says

“REGUA and many other projects in the tropics are still having problems germinating some species of tree and if I try at a different time of year we may have more success.  

Thor with one of his successful cuttings. (© Sue Healey)

I also want to go and see other projects here in Brazil.   Before I come back however, I need to tackle identifying some of the tree species and they are overwhelming here.   I would recommend REGUA totally as an experience, with its peace and quiet and such welcoming people, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here.”

REGUA looks forward to Thor’s return.

 

Visit of ICPDR President

Peter Gammeltoft recently made a visit to REGUA.   Peter is the former head of Water and Marine Environment in the European Commission and currently the President of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICDPR) which involves 14 European Countries in its watershed as contracting parties.

Raquel & Peter in a newly planted area (©Nicholas Locke)

Peter was invited to Brazil by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to advise the Brazilian Government on water policy.

Peter is a family relation of Nicholas and Raquel Locke and they took advantage of his time and knowledge to show what REGUA is doing for the environment in this microcosm of the world.

Questions flowed and doubts ebbed as conversations showed that our principles are not too far behind the thinking needed in territorial design and ecosystem functionality.

Peter remarked “It was really great to see all the good work you are doing at Regua.   This type of work is very important, and I was very impressed to hear about how you are managing to ensure local support. “

We wish him and the OECD team all the success in the current decisions that are so very important for the future.

Thanks for finding time to visit, Peter!

 

REGUA – the solution to land erosion!

Planting trees on degraded soils is never easy. Over time, the soil loses most of its nutrients, becomes compacted, and is very often too steep to even walk on. The land owners give up areas that cannot be mechanized and allow it to turn into poor quality pasture where it can be burned occasionally to keep it free from weeds. Soils lose the carbon granules that bind soil together and slowly micro-bacterial life drains out allowing heavy rain to start ugly gully erosion.

Raquel and André inspect the trees (© Nicholas Locke)

These are the soils that REGUA wants to return to forests before they become an ecological disaster zone, an eyesore and are also too expensive to retrieve. Owners are reticent to allow REGUA to convert tired uphill land to forest as they think their properties will lose value. The owners don’t want to sell the land as there is little else to buy with the money. However REGUA has experience and in its stubbornness gently inches forward to improve the Guapiaçu valley.

The hillside of the Protestant land is one that poses a challenge for it is currently in grass, very steep and already has some gullies formed by heavy rain.

Professor André Tavares Correa Dias of the Department of Ecosystem Ecology at Rio de Janeiro State University, is himself involved in restoring bauxite residual dumping grounds in Pará State visited us and we took him to see our challenges. He was very pleased with the results to date. Our trees are planted just before the rains – the best time to build a forest. We only hope the rains won’t bring the hill down before the trees have time to bind the soil!

Nicholas and André discuss the planting (© Raquel Locke)

Last year’s planting season was in November, and the mortality rate was quite acceptable given the factors, so we are hopeful that we will be able to establish these new forests at REGUA to the benefit of the biodiversity, its community and the valley’s overall ecological functionality.

Volunteer Thor plants his first Brazilian tree

REGUA volunteer Thor Smestad hails from British Columbia, Canada. He came to Brazil to fulfill a dream, to plant trees in Brazil.

Thor Smestad Planting his first Brazilian Tree (© Nicholas Locke)

With a diploma in Forestry Technology and a degree in Forest Resources Management, Thor brings a new approach to our propagation model. As he is a specialist in propagation from from cuttings he started by taking cuttings from four Brazilian species to test how successful they are in rooting. This would be a major breakthrough in reducing reforestation costs and his cuttings placed in buckets with small air pumps lay in tubs of water waiting to root. Thor has seen the re-forested areas and the latest areas planted and is amazed at the scale in which REGUA is working. He has offered some valuable contributions in improving the quality of planting. We were able to reward Thor by planting two very special seedlings of “Guarajuba”, (Terminalia acuminate) donated by the botanist Pablo Prieto.

We had heard about these endangered trees from Pablo, a senior researcher at the Botanical Gardens in Rio de Janeiro. He is involved in compiling the Red data list of plants of the Atlantic Forest. Guarajuba wood was well known for its high quality timber which was used to for buildings and boats. Being valuable led to trees being cut down in huge numbers. There are six individual Guarajuba trees in the Botanical Gardens of Rio de Janeiro, but when botanists started searching in the forests around Rio city and in the best remaining tracts of forest, none could be found. It was thought that the species had been lost in the wild.

Volunteer Thor plants a Guarajuba Tree (Terminalia acuminata) (© Nicholas Locke)

However upon researching the Tijuca forest last year, botanists came across 28 examples of this very species. They had probably been planted in 1861-1874 when Major Archer spearheaded the reforestation of the degraded hill under Christ the Redeemer as its water sources had dried up. Pablo found some seeds under this tree and germinated them at home. He generously brought two examples for us to plant at front of REGUA.

This is just terrific and short of opening a bottle of champagne to celebrate we are overjoyed that Thor could plant both the trees for us and hope that in a few years we shall also have seeds to plant elsewhere.

400,000th tree planted!

REGUA planted its 400,000 tree on November 23rd 2016.   The tree species to get this wonderful accolade is  “Angelim de morcego”,  Andira anthelmia.

Raquel with REGUA’s 400,000th Tree (© Nicholas Locke)

One of Raquel’s favourite trees, the planting was made possible by the World Land Trust UK as part of its “Plant a tree” fund, and with the land donated to REGUA by the Danish Travel Fund this was truly a team success.   This particular piece of land is very important as it faces the High Matumbo community and strengthens the barrier of the forest.

This marks a very important point in history for us all and we can only hope that we can, with your support continue to plant trees and reach a million!

90% of REGUA’s trees come from its plant nursery and the entire process of restoration involves local community members and is admired by local residents.

Thank you again – this just proves what can be done when we work together and there is the will to succeed.

Nicholas Locke

World Land Trust – Forests of the Future Fund

The forests at REGUA are growing! The area known to friends as the Protestant land in the Matumbo Gap was an area of pasture that REGUA had long wanted to reforest.   It represented a corridor that could link precious areas to the main REGUA block of forest.

The Planting Team with Raquel Locke, REGUA's Vice President and Sue Healey UK Volunteer.
The Planting Team with Raquel Locke, REGUA’s Vice President and Sue Healey UK Volunteer. (© REGUA)

The World Land Trust had helped us acquire the land in 2014 but the thick mat of imperata or brachiaria grasses was not permitting trees to germinate and gain a foothold. The answer lay in an assisted planting scheme.

The World land Trust helped us again with a grant “Forests of the Future Fund” and Seotaiji the great South Korean singer helped us with the necessary funds to enable the planting of 10,000 REGUA nursery native trees.  Only a year later the results show for themselves.

We have taken many guests and specialists who have been bowled over with the rapid growth of the trees showing that the trees are anxious to form a forest once again. The weather was kind to us after an initial drought and since we have been looking very well after the forests. I wish all forests could grow so quickly!

One year on
One year on (© Sue Healey)

We are now preparing another area for the World Land Trust  “Forests of the Future” programme, but thank you World Land Trust and Seotaiji so much for this important support.

Offset your carbon emissions with REGUA

Seedlings as wedding favours
Seedlings as wedding favours (© Faith Wilson)

Ben Phalan and Luciana Leite de Araújo got married recently in Arembepe, Bahia, Brazil. Both are environmentally concerned and decided to offset the 133 tonnes of carbon emissions created by themselves, their family and friends in travelling to the wedding. Although most of their guests were from within Brazil, their multi-nation guests came from as far away as Salvador, Oregon and Philadelphia in the US, Prague, England, Scotland and Ireland.

They chose two projects dear to them – REGUA and the Golden Lion Tamarin project. Ben and Luciana also gave away native “Ipé Rosa” seedlings to Brazilian friends at the wedding in commemoration of their union.

Thank you Ben and Luciana and may your trees grow and grow. The funds will be used for REGUA’s restoration project and will enable us to plant around 400 trees.

Guanabara Watershed Committee

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.

 

Three more RPPN certificates are granted

REGUA was delighted to attend a presentation in Rio recently for three more areas of the Reserve to be granted RPPN status.

Presenting 18 awards to various land owners were  André Correâ,  Rio de Janeiro State Secretary for the Environment and Paul Schiavo, Director of Biodiversity for the State Institute of the Environment (INEA).

Nicholas (far right) receiving three RPPN Certificates
Nicholas (far right) with other recipients of RPPN Certificates (© Sue Healey)

The 18 new certificates cover around 900 hectares, bringing the total number of RPPN protected areas to 78 and a total area of 11,000 hectares.   They are located in 12 local authorities across the State and are contributing to the preservation of important fragments of Atlantic Forest.

André Correâ acknowledged that the owners of the 78 RPPN areas had achieved their work  without support and congratulated them saying:
“The most ancient civilisations said that the life is worthwhile when your son is born, you plant a tree and write a book. You are going there, are contributing with your legacy, with much more than a tree, and who knows that these RPPNs will not serve as inspiration for a book.”

He added that the State Environment Agency want to  ….
” build a policy of tourist attractions. Let’s build a sustainable tourism programme, ecotourism, for RPPNs.  Another important issue is how to trade in the stock of carbon held in these preserved trees. This may become attractive to make a RPPN not only by the legitimate gesture of wanting to preserve the heritage”

Paul Schiavo added
“The creation of private reserves means that society is moving towards managing to participate in the day to day control of areas  fundamental to guarantee life.   Many of these private reserves are the major water sources in a region.   We will increasingly encourage, facilitate the creation, so that those gaps that the state does not fill is complete by individuals“ 

Their words totally confirm REGUA’s successful model for sustainable ecotourism supporting the mission of the long-term conservation of the forests of the upper Guapiaçu river basin.

REGUA – Building Relationships

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.

 

REGUA GGV Project Team
REGUA GGV Project Team (© Tatiana Horta)

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.