Guapiaçu Grande Vida Project – Update

The latest news on our second GGV Project from REGUA’s Vice-President, Raquel Locke:

The much expected rain has finally arrived and the entire landscape has been relieved from a near two-month drought.

REGUA’s Nursery with trees ready to be planted (© Aline Damasceno de Azevedo)

The GGV Petrobras funded project aims at restoring a further 60 hectares of degraded land with native trees over a two-year period. (The first project restored 100 hectares).

On average, 1667 trees will be planted per hectare by a team of six Rangers who are very keen to start with their work.    An array of 100 native Atlantic Forest tree species will be planted in this area.    Tree matrices in REGUA´s forests provide the template for our planting of species.

The young trees are grown in REGUA’s nursery.   The seeds are carefully brought down from the forest by our nursery staff.   Once in the nursery, seeds are either stored or sown in seed beds according to their characteristics and demands.

It is interesting to note that some tree species need shade all through their time in the nursery, whilst other species need half or full exposure to sunlight.  Their pioneer, early secondary, late secondary and climax species characteristics dictate these requirements.

The rainy season heralds the start of our planting season, beginning in October and ending late March.

Degraded Hillside where the young trees will be planted (©Aline Damasceno de Azevedo)

Staff and tree saplings will be transported to the planting sites which are on average some six kilometres from REGUA´s Conservation Centre.

The much-improved road access to Pai Velho area in Areal vicinity has just been completed which should make the task more efficient.

Raquel Locke

Nicholas attends International course in Dresden

Nicholas Locke, REGUA President was invited by Dresden Technical University and André Lindner to attend their 71st UNEP/UNESCO/BMUB International Short Course on Ecosystem Management – Conservation of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services – click here for their blog.

Nicholas Locke (© Alan Martin)

Nicholas reports as follows:

“The hosts and group have  been wonderful and the results show that all that we do at REGUA is extremely relevant to many across the globe.   The problems we face are all the same and when REGUA is presented as a case study, we can clearly see why we should all be proud of our achievements.   The success comes from a well knit team with shared objectives, together with support from visitors and donors who believe in our capacity to deliver.

Though every day is a challenge, we are capable of making the difference in a world that desperately needs successful examples.

A big thank you to André Lindner and Dresden Technical University for inviting me.”

To see what we have achieved so far, take a look at the REGUA film, Narrated by Michael Palin, produced by Verity White/Five Films, soundtrack by Matthew Sheeran.

Guapiaçu Grande Vida Project – Phase II

Guapiaçu Grande Vida (GGV) Petrobrás funded project is back at REGUA!

On September 11th the GGV team gathered at REGUA to start the work which will be carried out during the next two years.

With the restoration of a further 60 hectares of degraded land and the monitoring of water quality in the Guapiaçú and Macacu rivers (at six fixed points in both rivers upstream and downstream), the GGV project aims at contributing to the safeguarding of a healthy forest ecosystem and  fresh water availability for human consumption.

The innovation of the GGV second phase is the inclusion of Cachoeiras de Macacu County Council as a formal partner with the assignment of a teacher and a biologist to assist the GGV Environmental Education staff.

Degraded Hillside to be planted (©Aline Damasceno de Azevedo)

The GGV official launch took place on September 21st at the County Council headquarters in Cachoeiras de Macacu town.   Petrobras representatives, local authorities including the Council´s Mayor and civil society representatives attended the ceremony.

The GGV monitoring of 100 hectares planted in 2013 will be included as part of the forest restoration programme.    A training course for this purpose will be held for the tree-planting staff at REGUA’s Conservation Centre.    Growth rates and biomass are to be measured by the students.

The GGV Environmental Education programme based on the monitoring of water quality in the Guapiaçú and Macacu rivers will select 40 students from one County Council run school and one State run school in Cachoeiras de Macacu town.   The selected group of students are currently undertaking their first and second year of secondary school level education. The students will be selected according to their grades and their interest to take part in this innovative water quality monitoring of the Guapiaçú and Macacu rivers. The GGV Environmental Education team will use rented vehicles to transport the students from their schools to the water monitoring  sites.

The Environmental Education programme will also organize a teacher training course and a  training course for nature guides. These two courses envision the use of the wetland trails maximising their educational potential for school and group visits.

Bare-throated Bellbird

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!

Kaitlin,
Volunteer bird guide.

Silvery-flanked Antwren nest-building

As I was patrolling the Brown Trail today, I noticed a pair of Silvery-flanked Antwrens (Myrmotherula luctosa) gathering dry leaves and taking them into the branches of a small tree. I carefully followed their lead and discovered a little cup nest taking shape! In order to avoid disturbing their work with my observation, I set up my camera on a tripod and left.

This short highlights reel reveals that male and female team up to weave a safe place for raising a family.

Enjoy!

Kaitlin Murphy
Volunteer Bird Guide

If you would like to volunteer at REGUA, see our Volunteer page for more details

Latest news from Kaitlin and Bobby

Kaitlin and Bobby are currently volunteering at REGUA.   Their main project is to help Adilei and Cirilo show the wonderful bird- and wild-life to visitors, but they still find time to do some exploring . . .

“Today Bobby and I were asked to survey a potential trail that winds through an area reforested in 2011-12 with the help of Petrobras.    We were amazed to see such a dramatic amount of growth for such a short amount of time, as well as the diversity of tree species used to jumpstart this section of forest which was once open pasture.    Most of the trees were well above our heads!

Bobby with the trees! (© Kaitlin Murphy)

It was a hot and sunny day, which can effect bird activity, but we still managed to count over 40 bird species using the area already!   It will be exciting to see how species composition changes as the forest progresses. 

Kaitlin, volunteer bird guide”

If you’re interested in volunteering at REGUA check out our Volunteer page 

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!

 

Weevil

Even though the Curculionidae family is one of the largest with almost 23,500 described species, split in 2,200 genera, making it the largest weevil sub-family known.

Unnamed Weevil photographed by Nicholas Locke.

These enigmatic creatures,  are surprisingly hard to find on the forest floor as they rummage for food, feeding mainly on plants.   The larvae and imago of this family are known to particularly like feeding on flowers, acorns and other nuts.

Weevils are given away by their distinct features such as shape, colour and their “geniculate antennae”,  which contain their neuronal taste cells.

I could not find a name for this particular individual so took photos and left it to its meal.

 

 

SavingSpecies visit REGUA

SavingSpecies is a US based charity led by Stuart Pimm and Clinton Jenkins. These are the finest conservation biologists, internationally respected for championing the environment. Stuart and Clinton visited together with a potential donor who may help us acquire an important piece of land to integrate REGUA.

Clinton Jenkins and Stuart Pimm with REGUA President Nicholas Locke (© Raquel Locke)

Stuart and Clinton were also visited by UERJ ornithologist Maria Alice Alves who had helped them predict the location of the Grey-winged Cotinga on the mountain tops close by.    They also had a chance to hear the conservation status of the Patagonian Hooded Grebe as explained by volunteers Bob and Gaitlin from the US.

The evening conversations flowed and subjects ranged from project development to vision building and funding capacity.

We need “hands-on” locally run environmental projects protecting threatened species and REGUA is all about habitat protection and has been able to include its local communities in the responsibility of the needed conservation work. There is hope!