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.

Tapir Awareness Programme

As we progress the Brazilian Tapir (Tapirus terrestris)  re-introduction programme, it is vital that the local communities are aware of the project and understand the value of Tapirs to the diversity of the forest.

Nicholas and Raquel are working with the Team on this vital issue – considering the possibility of the Tapirs advancing into local fields and feasting on manioc, corn and guava!

Prof. Maron Galliez and Joana Macedo with Young Rangers
Prof. Maron Galliez and Joana Macedo with Young Rangers (© REGUA)

Brazilian Tapirs have been extinct for the last 100 years in the state of Rio de Janeiro.   They can reach 300 kilos and their diet is based on fruits, leaves and shoots, making them very important seed dispersers and soil fertilizers.

It is not only the adults that are involved in this education programme however.    Professor Maron Galliez and Joana Macedo recently organized a session with the  Young Rangers.

After the Team explained what Tapir are and the reason for their re-introduction, there was a lively audience participation session which the Young Rangers thoroughly enjoyed.

 

 

 

 

Great success for Miguel

Professor Carlos with Miguel (© Nicholas Locke)
Professor Carlos with Miguel (© Nicholas Locke)

Miguel Ferreira de Conceição is a young lad from the local community of Matumbo who has a passion for nature. He comes from a humble background and is now 21 years old, but since joining the Young Ranger Programme seven years ago, he found his desire for the future – wanting to work in tourism.

REGUA’s resident teacher Professor Carlos has always been supportive and encouraged him, and a month ago Miguel participated in a test that offered opportunities for a professional “Park visitor guide” course organized by the State Government Institute (INEA). We were all thrilled that of the 50 applicants, Miguel took third place; a testimony to the value and contribution of REGUA’s Young Ranger Programme.

Miguel has started the course and is rightly proud of his achievements. It is rewarding and very satisfying for us to see direct life-changing benefits that can reach deep into other people lives.

Miguel loves dragonflies and as a reward we presented REGUA publication A Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Serra dos Orgaos so Miguel can brush up his knowledge of these special creatures and guide future guests wanting to see them.

Young Ranger Programme

REGUA’s Young Rangers programme has been very successful this year with a huge participation by local adolescents.

REGUA’S teacher, locally known as ‘Professor Carlos’ has divided the entire group of 30 children into two age groups helping to keep them focused on the subjects he believes important.

Young Rangers
Young Rangers (© Gustavo Pedro)

This year marked its 11th anniversary and the results could not be more positive.

The aim of the programme is to remind the children that not only do they live in a precious environment but they are responsible for its care. The weekly visits to REGUA provide opportunities for lessons in the environment, social development punctuated with walks and visits, activities in the local community, lectures by resident researchers and excursions. The Young Rangers love it and every year increasingly more children want to join the programme.

Young rangers learn about palms

DSCN4559
Sara talks about Palms at REGUA (© REGUA)

Our Young Ranger project covers many aspects of the REGUA project and the biodiversity of the Atlantic Forest. Sara Colmenares, a Colombian lady undertaking her doctorate degree at REGUA, is studying palm diversity along the altitudinal gradient at REGUA and within the Serra dos Órgãos National Park. Sara recently gave an excellent talk to the Young Rangers about palms and we’d like to say thank you to Sara for a most interesting talk.

Tom Locke

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.

Learning English at REGUA

By Timo Kuijper, REGUA volunteer

Katerina english class
Katerina (left) with Timo (right) and the two students (© REGUA)

Two young brothers from the nearby town of Guapiaçu came down to REGUA yesterday for their weekly English lesson with Katerina Samara. Their English has been steadily improving over the last year by following these free voluntary lessons.

Katerina, who is of English descent, migrated to Guapiaçu two years ago after volunteering at REGUA. She fell in love with Barata, one of REGUA’s employee’s, and decided she would call Brazil her new home. On Mondays she offers English lessons to the kids from the area around the reserve. These free lessons enable local kids to learn English which would be very pricey or unaffordable otherwise.

To make yesterday’s lesson more interesting and to show the kids the benefit of learning English, Katerina gave the brothers a task to interview a Dutch volunteer that has been staying at the reserve. They asked him about life in The Netherlands and how much he has been enjoying his stay at REGUA so far. The brothers couldn’t believe how cold the Dutch climate is and they wouldn’t want to trade places for all the money in the world.

Young Rangers visit Tres Picos Park

With the Young Ranger Programme in full swing, REGUA’s environmental officer Carlos Quintanilha took the 32 Rangers and some of their parents for a day visit to the Tres Picos Park.

Young Rangers at Tres Picos
Young Rangers with Jequitibá Tree (© REGUA)

The aim was to explain the principle objectives of the Park and its importance to the local communities living nearby.    The children converged on the lawn at the entrance of the Park for a welcome talk explaining the history of the Park, followed by a stroll through the permanent exhibition at the visitor center and ending with a long walk to the famous Jequitibá tree famous for being one the largest in south east Brazil at over 40 metres tall and around 1000 years old.

The Young Rangers were also presented talks on the importance of water and stream conservation as well as soil structure with an introduction on soil horizons.