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
A windy and cloudy Saturday full of activities as the Education Officers of the Guapiaçu Grande Vida team held a student training course.
They are being taught to use the water-monitoring kit which they will use in the Macacu and Guapiaçu rivers. Arriving in the morning for breakfast they left after lunch with a certificate acknowledging they had completed this twenty hour course in three sessions.
The syllabus included topics such as river basin management, mapping, environmental education and it’s relevance as a tool for conservation, use of trails and open public areas with an educational approach, water cycle and water sampling for physical and chemical analysis.
Another successful day with enthusiastic students and tutors.
Ever wonder what the loudest bird on Earth is? The outrageous Bare-throated Bellbird (Procnias nudicollis) is certainly a top contender! While hiking up the Green Trail here at REGUA, singing males can be heard from over a kilometre away.
The call each male belts from his featherless blue-skinned throat sounds like a mallet striking an iron pipe, and echoes down the valley in rhythmic series. As we climb higher up the mountain trail, the boinks and bonks of competing males get louder and louder, but we can often only catch glimpses of them perched high in treetops.
Today, volunteer bird guide Bobby found our lucky visitor group, front row seats to an ear-splitting performance by a young male singing close beneath the canopy. Bare-throated Bellbirds are endemic to the Atlantic Forest, found nowhere else on Earth. These large, fruit-loving passerines perform crucial seed dispersing services for many lowland and montane trees. Unfortunately, drastic logging of the Atlantic Forest for development, combined with illegal poaching for the caged-bird trade, has led to declining populations of this spectacular species and a Vulnerable designation by IUCN. But thanks to REGUA, the forest home of these contending males along the Green Trail is safe into the future. And they can return the favor by dispersing their favorite fruit trees throughout the reserve, helping the forest to grow!
REGUA attended the second International Congress “Laudato si and large cities” organized by the Antonio Gaudi Foundation in Barcelona. Pope Francis’s triumphal encyclical “Laudato si” or “Care for the Common Home” published in 2015 with the support of 1,000 scientists is, according to many, the greatest Manifesto on environmental concerns regarding planet Earth.
It is an appeal for reflections and dialogue to every person on how we are shaping our world.
In this second Congress, guest speakers presented their views and experiences on key issues facing an increasingly burgeoning population of which 80% of us live in cities. The topics continue to be of great relevance; water supply, atmospheric pollution and waste management. The issues are common around the world but the consequences are increasingly dramatic. The four day Congress showed that many share preoccupations and provided glimpses of successful solutions.
Our delegates returned to REGUA with renewed enthusiasm and commitment to continue the work already started.
World Land Trust/UK Founder and acting Chief Executive, John Burton informed us a week ago that Liz Calder wished to visit, so you can imagine how delighted we were to receive her together with her son Toby and partner Gislane.
Liz is well known in Brazil as being responsible for establishing the Paraty Literary Festival (FLIP). It all started when she and her husband came to work for Rolls Royce in the 1960’s and she fell in love with this country.
At the time Paraty, the colonial gold route town, could only be reached by sea but when Liz finally visited, she recognized its potential as an international venue. Many literary celebrities have passed through Paraty and this year marked its 15th anniversary.
Based on this global success, Liz has decided to take FLIP to the UK and this year an Arts Festival named FLIPSIDE will be held between 6th and 8th October at Snape Maltings in Suffolk, UK.
The REGUA video narrated by Michael Palin, will be shown to the public and we hope this contributes to generate awareness on our work here within the same forests that extend to shape that town called Paraty!
Black-legged Dacnis (Dacnis nigripes) is considered a threatened species on the IUCN red list, but it can still be found in gregarious groups on the Reserve feeding on Trema micrantha fruit.
Just a few years ago REGUA started planting forests on the lowland and the presence of this species signalled that our planting was successful.
Black-legged Dacnis is sparsely recorded along coastal Brazil and found generally in primary and good secondary forest feeding in mixed flocks.
The male might be easily confused with Blue Dacnis (Dacnis cayana) which has pink legs, but the female is very different, and therefore easy to tell apart.
Adilei has even found both varieties feeding together in high altitude forests. As breeding takes place between October and February, their presence in May on the lowlands suggests they are content to stay, so we shall be looking after them and checking their behaviour.
It is with great sadness that we heard that World land Trust colleague and friend Roger Wilson passed away recently.
Roger was an experienced tropical forester and helped REGUA from day one with words of encouragement and the belief that we were capable of planting and delivering our forests.
REGUA’s restoration programme is well known within Brazil and I can say with assurance that we owe so much to him for starting this work and putting us on the map. Tropical forestry loses a great ambassador and we were proud to have known him. The photograph, taken in London in 2014, was the last time we were together.
Helmut Seehawer has been visiting REGUA for many years. As a former Lufthansa Airline Pilot, he flew from Germany to Brazil regularly, and in his free time explored the countryside.
On one occasion he travelled with his colleagues to Paraty in Rio State. In those days there were no roads and travelling was a real adventure. One of his friends was keen to find orchids and although Helmut could not understand the fascination, he wanted to explore the jungle. He was delighted when they found some unspoilt forests with their huge trees, tangles and epiphytes.
The friend pointed out large, bright flowers of orchids on the branches of the trees, and at times the two of them climbed trees to get closer views, occasionally jumping from one tree to the other using the branches and vines.
Whilst climbing the trees, Helmut noticed some smaller plants with more delicate flowers, these too were Orchids and a passion was realised.
Helmut purchased a “Sitio” or property in the mountains near Nova Friburgo so that he could explore and protect the habitat there, especially the wonderful orchids he had grown to love.
A collaboration with David Miller, Richard Warren and Isabel Moura Miller in the late 1990’s resulted in the acclaimed book ‘Serra Dos Órgãos Sua Historia e Suas Orquideas’ [Serra Dos Órgãos your history and your orchid]’.
Published in 2006, the book features over 200 superb illustrations by Helmut, in wonderful detail. [See below for just one example]
Helmut is back at REGUA for an extended visit with his son Klaus and grand-daughter Katja, who are both carrying on the family love of biology and nature. Klaus is a snake enthusiast and has spent long days in the field looking for snakes, whilst Katja has previously spent time as a Volunteer researcher at REGUA, studying the mammals around the wetland.
Illustrations by Helmut Seehawer (photo by Sue Healey)
Whilst counting Capybara, Katja and Helmut Seehawer found a wonderful green snake in the REGUA wetlands. It has been provisionally identified it as Chironius multiventris. If this is confirmed it would be a new snake for the REGUA snake species list.
The Chironius family of the Atlantic forest consists of five species of elegant green, grey, brown or black snakes. The green variants are especially difficult to identify.
The common name of Chironius multiventris is cobra-cipó – liana snake. It is a non-venomous snake that grows to nearly two metres. The snake is diurnal and actively hunts for its prey in trees and on the ground. It preys – good news for you birders out there! – mainly on amphibians.
The snake seen at noon right in the middle of the wetlands was 120 cm long and of a wonderful green colour with a blue shimmer reflecting from the sky above. It was observed for a while and obviously distracted by hunting.
With the growing number of species across many taxa in the wetlands the number of snakes will also increase. In intact Atlantic Forest habitat (without human snake killing) 80% of the snakes encountered will be nonvenomous.
On a separate occasion the Seehawer family encountered another large green snake on Green Trail. This snake was possibly Chironius exoletus or Chironius bicarinatus, but they were not able to make a reliable identification as the colour and back marking was in between these two snake species.
Give snakes their space and enjoy the rare adventure of seeing one.
N.B. it should be noted that snakes are not easy to find at REGUA, their natural defence means they are well aware of human presence and will slip away rather than be found. The Seehawer family are very experienced in finding snakes and walked in the forest with REGUA Rangers.
Sometimes one feels that there seems to be a lull like the wind has dropped leaving the sails slack. This year appeared that way; fewer visitors and reforestation grants contributing to the lack of needed momentum at a precious time.
Admittedly land purchases have been tough and it’s been hard to close the available areas with their respective owners. I guess socio-economic conditions are constantly changing and these naturally affect the efficiency of our proposal.
Then I received an email that the Global Conservation Leadership Programme winners had been announced and found the page to seek the name of those prizewinners.
The Young Conservationists is a great programme that seeks young researchers in Biology and provides them with a grant to continue with their studies. I have often been asked by friends to submit a proposal but I do consider I am in the correct age range to compete. Imagine my delightful surprise when checking this year’s prizewinners to find the Muriqui Monkey Project in SE Brazil.
The picture of André Lanna and Rildo as winners of the 2017 prize gave me a huge confidence boost. Well done André, REGUA ranger Rildo and Muriqui Team!
André had mentioned that REGUA may be the last bastion of the Southern Muriqui primate and suspect that there could be three populations here. May their project continue to enjoy the success it deserves and place REGUA healthily on the map.