Category Archives: Staff

2019 Update

Dear Friends and Supporters of REGUA 

Yet another year has passed and Raquel and I, on behalf of everyone at the REGUA project, would like to share this update that is just full to the brim of encouraging news. 

The Guapiaçu Valley (© REGUA)

The mission statement of the project is the conservation of the Guapiaçu watershed achieved through the implementation of four principle programmes; protection; restoration; education and research. 

Land Purchase is a visceral part of REGUA’s protection programme and in 2019 REGUA purchased or (at the time of writing) is in the process of finalising the purchase of various parcels of land to integrate into the Reserve of 338.5 hectares/846.25 acres. This would not be possible without the continued generosity of our supporters. 

REGUA employs 10 rangers from the local community and their work consists of principally patrolling the forests along 45km of the reserve’s trail network. The aim of the patrolling is to show REGUA presence and discourage hunting.  Coming from the local community the rangers are able to share news and discuss any concerns which enables them to be part of the decisions made and work done here.  Sponsorship supports some of our rangers enabling us to increase our team as land purchase increases the size of the reserve.

Our Reforestation Team (© REGUA)

REGUA continues to reforest as part of its programme in habitat restoration. The project has now planted over 520,000 trees since 2005. Tree planting is not an easy task, but with support from many individuals, and grants from companies and supportive conservation organisations, REGUA has planted tough areas and results are heart-warming. Increasing the overall forest cover, reducing edge effect, and creating and strengthening forest corridors, which offer greater areas for biodiversity, are vital. 

Our education programme thrives with the out-reach programme to local schools meeting over 2,270 children. We have 19 enthusiastic young people in our young ranger programme and have met just under 200 school teachers and received 80 tutors on our teacher courses. All of which continues to spread our message of conservation and the value of the wonderful landscape and biodiversity in to the local communities.

Taking our education programme to local communities (© REGUA)

Over 2,000 individuals have participated in training courses and research work at REGUA and our reputation with major universities continues to grow. 

The results have led to protocols in tree monitoring established by the RJ Government; on-going experimental plots; long term monitoring plots to measure tree growth; carbon sequestration studies; seed exchange and hosting technical workshops at REGUA as well invitation to participate in seminars and congresses.

Our protection and increased continuous forest, made REGUA a suitable project to launch the tapir reintroduction programme, a fact which we feel is an clear endorsement of the work we are doing. The reintroduction project is run by the Rio de Janeiro University. REGUA currently has nine tapirs roaming in the nearby local forests. This attracts public attention and reflects the value of a safe nature reserve. Sadly things are not always straightforward and two casualties showed that bats, anaemia and infections are to be reckoned with.

Lowland Tapir reintroduction (© REGUA)

Tourism at REGUA has continued to increase as a result of its reputation spread by word of mouth, internet and social media promotion, report writing and reviews. The Lodge offers comfortable accommodation, and guiding helps to make for a pleasurable and productive time. The bird life continues to attract visitors and groups from around the globe, but similarly dragonfly, butterfly and amphibian groups are visiting. Rio is an international hub and makes the REGUA an easy place to visit being just under two hours from the airport with a remarkably preserved habitat. 

Our plans for the future are clear, we have to keep developing and promoting our work independently. REGUA wishes to expand and consolidate through land purchase and complementary programmes. Tourism continues to be an essential component of REGUA’s fund-raising.

The conservation principles and ethos has attracted political interest and with the aim of securing water resources, the Government has declared the Guapiaçu watershed as strategically important for conservation. 

Restoration in action (© REGUA)

Brazil continues to be a key area for global conservation, but it’s not an easy country to work in.  Located in a global “hotspot”, the Atlantic rainforest biome, located in an “Important Bird Area” (IBA) as defined by Birdlife International, REGUA is an “Outpost of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve”. 

Perhaps REGUA is not pristine habitat nor is it the home to some of the more charismatic species instantly recognised by the general public, but our main contribution is that we are repairing and organising damaged ecosystems. REGUA is showing that this different approach, will one day be vital for repairing tropical forests around the globe. 

Three RPPNs areas have been constituted and two more are waiting to be approved, taking us up to second position in the State list of protected private areas. Our conservation efforts are being recognised and they are a source of inspiration to people visiting anxious to see what the fuss is all about!

This year REGUA was able to put more land into protection, plant more trees, publish more science and receive more visitors. As a result we are
influencing public politics as to the regional importance of this Guapiaçu
watershed and encouraging others to follow us. 

We could not be prouder of our efforts. We would like to wish everyone a very Happy Xmas and a wonderful New year.

King Vulture photographed by Marco Wood-Bonelli

Here’s to a great year ahead – and hoping for more great sightings like the King Vulture photographed by Marco Wood-Bonelli in September 2019!


Nicholas, Raquel, Thomas and the REGUA Team 


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.