Category Archives: Staff

A big Thank You to all REGUA supporters!

REGUA welcomed retired RSPB director Stuart Housden and Alan Martin recently.   Although Stuart is familiar with the project and had visited REGUA before, he is now a Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest Trust (BART) Trustee and the aim of the visit was to learn what REGUA does; why its work is so valuable and how he could help us with his vast experience.

Stuart and Alan (© Nicholas Locke)

It is amazing to think that we started this off in 2001 with a plan to protect a part of the Atlantic Rainforest at REGUA and almost two decades later, this project is attracting international and national attention for progress in all of its programmes, be it in administration, protection, research, education, restoration or tourism.

REGUA’s location is privileged in that it is set in an area that still retains a significant amount of original biodiversity.   It is also just close enough to Rio de Janeiro city and its environs to make a day outing, an overnight stay or longer visit easily viable.

The factors that contribute to the biodiversity are various including; area of remaining forest cover, a forested gradient and fundamentally an understanding local community, be it land owners, farmers or the local population.    We started our conservation programmes 20 years ago with international support as funding within Brazil was virtually non-existent. Today we see the fruit of what we planted and the results today of every programme speak for themself.

Possibly the best thing about REGUA is that there are so many things to do, it has an exciting aura around it as ever more people are visiting and we can show positive results. The forests are returning the hillsides and valley, the biodiversity is improving, more land is put into set aside, more visitors and the community are learning and approving of our actions and we are getting bolder with our convictions.

Restored landscape (© Sue Healey)

So, although Raquel and I are getting older, we are keener than ever to gain improved results.   Through sharing experiences and knowledge, your visit helps us stride firmly towards the future.

A huge thank you to our UK volunteers, Lee, Rachel, Sue, and to Alan for having been champion king pin for so many years, and now Stuart who together with our mother charity BART and its Trustees endorse our actions and want to help us reach further towards the future.

On both sides of the Atlantic, we have marvellous teams and Raquel and I can firmly say that your determined support has made the difference!

If you would like to meet our UK Volunteer Team they will be at the British Bird Fair, Rutland Water, 17th-19th August, 2018.   Pop along and say hello, Marquee 1 stand 37

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!

Rildo finds Bothrops jararaca

Bothrops jararaca (© Rildo da Rosa Oliveira)

The Atlantic Forest snake species, Bothrops jararaca, a type of pit viper, is one that locals hold in the highest regard and with good reason. It is dangerous only if one steps on one and accidentally gets bitten.

According to serpent specialists, snakes are not uncommon in REGUA’s forests. I have to admit that although I have walked many times in the forest I have failed to find one. However, I am sure that finding one coiled on the path can be a harrowing experience. In the distant past most local people would kill every snake irrespective of colour, thickness and length.

Today the REGUA rangers know that reptiles form an important part of our biodiverse forests and are not aggressive. They now leave them to their own business, and are helping to spread the word that unless they are inadvertently disturbed, most snakes would slither off into the forest before we are even aware of their presence.

REGUA’s World Land Trust “Keepers of the Wild” project sponsored ranger Rildo da Rosa Oliveira found this one by a rock and left it apparently dozing. He didn’t want to look closer!

Forest Fire

When fire broke out on land adjoining REGUA (a hillside opposite Matumbo`s small supermarket), our well-rehearsed team went immediately into effective action before the Fire Brigade arrived from Cachoeiras de Macacu town.   With a very hot wind the flames were blown onto REGUA land.
Smouldering fire damage (© Nicholas Locke)
The fire brigade and Regua team got the fire under control.   With no hesitation or thought for their own safety, all available staff fought with energy and courage, saving many of our young trees.
Fires together with hot weather create a lot of damage but thanks to a quick team we were able to control it. Thank you Cachoeiras de Macacu Fire brigade for your brave help!

 

Ruy creates feeders for the release pen

Ruy’s creativity never ceases to surprise us and yesterday he brought down the feeding stations that he personally built for the Black-fronted Piping-guan release pen.

These small constructions will be suspended inside and outside the aviary as part of a “soft-release” method.

Nicholas, Ruy and João Rafael Marins from Desengano State Park with the Black-fronted Piping-Guan feeders. (© REGUA)

The birds can eat their ration and after the period of quarantine the aviary door will be opened for them to wander into freedom and around the reserve.

If they feel like returning and eating their ration, the stations will be waiting for them, but generally after three days they make a run for it as the instinct for seeking their natural preference for fruits and insects kicks in.

Well done Ruy, what would we do without you!!

 

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.

Lisa

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Lisa (© Joy Braker)

One of our most valued and long-serving members of staff, Lisa is currently in hospital.

Those who have visited REGUA and stayed at the lodge will know Lisa as our main cook and housekeeper, preparing lovely meals for our guests and looking after the lodge.

The medical staff at Rio hospital have had to make the difficult decision to amputate both legs, so Lisa will have a slow recovery and have great changes to adapt to.

Lisa is a strong woman, who is dealing with this situation very positively. Her family are being tremendously supportive and her REGUA ‘family’ are helping with visits and practical assistance.

Everyone at REGUA sends her our love and best wishes and we look forward to her return.

Building a community

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Sandra in her restaurant (© Tom Locke)
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Jossué in his shop (© Tom Locke)

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.