Category Archives: Young Rangers

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 


Young rangers

Our young ranger project, now in its 13th year,  continues to flourish under the ever-present influence of Prof. Carlos.   From nearby schools, the youngsters are collected once a week and brought to the reserve.

These young people are given the opportunity to experience life in the forest with walks and activities which bring them into a new environment.   Although the majority of the subjects raised are based on environmental and conservation issues, this can follow a very wide area of experiences as they are made aware of the human responsibility and duty as a citizen, to nature and their community as they grown up.

Young Rangers hear Tapir update (© REGUA)

Indoor lessons on various topics including the biodiversity of the Mata Atlântica, how forests help provide clean water and the importance of recycling.   Walks around the wetland area, enable practical activities, such as water quality testing, clearing the paths of fallen branches and repainting the distance markers to be carried out.   Sometimes they help in the tree nursery or plant out saplings.   These practical activities ensure that these young people become engaged with the forest and feel comfortable there.

Researchers visiting REGUA are happy to discuss their projects – with snakes and bats being the two most popular talks so far.   The children are also involved in the education programme supporting the introduction of Lowland Tapir on the reserve.   This has encompassed our local communities and reinforces the importance of improving and protecting the Guapiaçu Valley.

 

 

 

Young Rangers 12th Anniversary

South East Brazil’s most successful Young Ranger course has celebrated its 12th anniversary.

It is aimed at the younger segment of our local communities and offers young children a glimpse into our own vision of the world, that of conservation.    We want to show them why we need to protect Nature here and how we do so.

Young Rangers (© REGUA)

If they can understand that they live in one of the most bio-diverse Hotspots in the globe and that REGUA wants to share this with them, then we have helped instil the concept of responsibility.    It has been a brilliant 12 years with super results and it’s a programme that all sister conservation projects could offer.

Nicholas Locke

P.S. I well remember a group of  friends visiting the Reserve in May 2006, agreeing to help with your new Educational project.   They took telescopes down to the Wetland to meet our first group of Young Rangers.   The children had never really had the opportunity to look at birds and the excitement could be heard back at the lodge as they looked at different species and delighted in trying to understand their English names.   The current Young Rangers are studying and monitoring the quality of the water in the wetlands, are keen to explore the forests in the area and understand far more about the importance of protecting the area they live in.    They still love to practice their English too!

Young Rangers 2018 Programme has started

Prof. Carlos Quintanilha, the Environmental Education teacher in charge of REGUA’s Young Ranger programme has  started with the weekly lessons on Thursday afternoons.   There are 15 very enthusiastic youngsters coming from the nearby communities of Matumbo and Estreito.    All of them attend the local school in the morning and look forward to coming to the Reserve in the afternoon.

The Young Rangers with Prof. Carlos & Raquel Locke (© REGUA)

Prof. Carlos is a very dedicated teacher keeping the Young Rangers’ interest in nature with different subjects and activities which are undertaken during their visits.  So far this year the Young Rangers have worked with the subject of water availability and its sustainable use.    Carlos is raising their awareness on clean, abundant water being  dependant on the protection of our forests.

“Forests produce water” is the quote you hear them commenting amongst themselves.

Young Rangers hear Tapir update

The Tapir re-introduction team comes to Regua on a weekly basis to check on the well-being of the Tapirs and to talk to community neighbours about this project.

Young Rangers hear Tapir Update (©REGUA)

The Young Rangers were thrilled to hear from Joana the Education Officer from the Tapir Reintroduction programme, that the Tapirs are becoming more independent from the food provided for them and that they are moving further away from the release-pen as each day goes by.

Prof. Carlos and the young rangers will be visiting the local villages of Guapiaçú, Santo Amaro, Areal, Matumbo and Estreito to inform the communities on the positive development of this pioneering project.

 

Tapir introduction going well

‘Snowflake’ in the REGUA forest (© REGUA)

The introduction of the Lowland or Brazilian Tapir Tapirus terrestris at REGUA is going very well. The two adults (previously referred to as Napoleon and Daphne) have been baptized ‘Adam’ and ‘Eve’ by the REGUA Young Rangers and the one year old calf (previously named Frank) has been given a new name, ‘flokinho’ or ‘Snowflake’ – probably because you see him very rarely here in the forest. He regularly wanders in and out of his release pen and ventures around the entire lowland area.

The researchers have been doing a great job and attached a radio collar to both adults and the programme is going according to schedule. For those who have never seen a tapir running in the forest, this is an opportunity not to be missed. They run faster than a champion Samoan rugby player with a similar frame and promptly disappear into the forest. There is a great pool in their release pen in which they can wallow and the adults love relaxing.

These tapirs are just terrific animals and although we are providing a fruit and vegetable supplement, they much prefer browsing the natural vegetation. They appear to enjoy nocturnal activities and we are set to release them at the end of February if all goes well.

Based on their and our learning, more will follow.

Young Rangers get a surprise!

As in many of our Young Ranger programmes, the students are taken to the latest area of reforestation – eleven years on and this year was no different.

Boots for the Young Rangers. Raquel with João (© Nicholas Locke)

On one recent visit to the Morro Pai Velho, local resident João and his wife saw the group of Young Rangers on their work without adequate footwear.   He decided there and then to order 30 pairs of wellington boots to equip the students.

He said that when he was growing up, he hadn’t any to wear and was so impressed by REGUA’s commitment to the younger generation that he wanted to find a way to reward them with this generous present.

Many thanks for your generosity João!

Congratulations Miguel Conceição

REGUA’s Young ranger Miguel Conceição has successfully completed his guide training course with honours.   The course was administrated by the State organisation, INEA and Três Picos State Park with the aim to qualify and prepare youths as professional guides in the region’s parks.

The course  focuses on youngsters who like nature and Miguel was selected after showing a real aptitude for nature in our Young Ranger programme.

Miguel Conceição with sister, mother, Prof Carlos and Raquel Locke (© REGUA)

Everyone at REGUA is very proud of his achievement – it just shows that with determination and perseverance one can achieve great things.    Our education officer Professor Carlos is thrilled with his star pupil however,  he is adamant, that all of the youngsters participating in this course have the capability to achieve this type of success.

As Miguel says, “It is my dream to become a biologist”.    His mother is rightly very proud and overjoyed as the course has inspired and instilled many values with the local youngsters, and says REGUA has been the best thing to happen to her family.    Wow!!!

We owe it to people like Miguel who believe in what we are doing and are prepared to take up the opportunities that are offered their life.    Thank you also to INEA for offering the chance to change this young man’s life.

Guide Training – part of REGUA’s Education work

Rio’s State Environmental Institute (INEA) organized a summer training course called “Trail Guiding” whose target audience were participants from the local areas of Cachoeiras de Macacu and Guapimirim. Thirty people enrolled in this course including REGUA’s young ranger Miguel – just shows how inspiring REGUA can be!

The course participants with REGUA staff (©REGUA)

The aim is to prepare local guides to help visitors at the Três Picos Park and Natural Park at Macacu. The guides love nature and need to gain experience, knowledge and confidence to show visitors all the beauty and diversity of the Atlantic Forest.

Part of the course covers Bird guiding, and as Regua’s guides have become well known for their skill and knowledge, we were happy to host the birdwatching event around our restored wetlands.   Adilei de Carvalho and Cirilo Vieira, Regua’s bird guides, were in charge of the training, giving a talk on what birding is about and showed them some of the most representative lowland species in the wetlands.