IUCN Head of Research visits REGUA

Last weekend REGUA received Thomas Brooks, Head of Research at Geneva for IUCN.

In between seeing birds in the day and waiting for the owls to call in the evening, we discussed the importance of monitoring, something talked about at the recent World Land Trust conference in Thetford UK.

Thomas Brook with Nicholas & Raquel (© Norman Cooper)

He also asked us about long term sustainability.    I told Tom that we believe REGUA will continue to grow and reach to tourism, education and research income streams and that we look at the protection core costs such as Ranger work being covered by Eco-service payments.

As there is increasing evidence that forests produce water, we believe that grants will be available in the near future that provide annual fee given to those proprietors who have forest cover.

 

Ian Thompson visits REGUA

Last week REGUA received Igor Camacho in the company of Ian Thompson, Conservation director for The Nature Conservancy, Brazil to successfully see the Shrike-like Cotinga amongst many local specialities.

Ian’s stay provided us with the opportunity to discuss our own objectives and plans.   We understand that most International agencies prefer providing funds to establish parks in Partner countries as opposed to supporting local NGOs buying land.

Nicholas with Ian Thompson and Igor Camacho (© REGUA)

The former takes a fraction of the cost but on the other hand,  NGOs understand the importance of engaging at local level, with their local communities, providing employment and raising awareness, all as a result of their own personal commitment.

Though decreeing parks is an important step taken by Governments, often those areas become “paper parks” allowing occupation, hunting and farming to continue.    Nature’s protection can be hard to enforce in these situations and NGOS are squeezed out of their stewardship role.

 

Any Myrmecologists out there?

Ants belong to the Formicidae family, one of the most important in Nature,  pillars of the ecosystem.   Divided into Tribes, the Atta and Acromyrmex  are very common in our Neotropical forests and though we worry about their action in freshly planted forests, they are very important in the established forest harvesting and cultivating their fungus on which they feed in their underground homes.

Ants feeding on young plant shoot (© Nicholas Locke)

Their vast system of perfectly ventilated tunnels and chambers permits precious nitrogen to reach the roots of trees.

We are trying to identify the most common species at REGUA but we expect to have between 400 and 450 different species.   Taking photographs is notoriously difficult, for aside being small, they move and are often camera shy.

If you want a challenge and wish to visit us spending your time helping us to get some images to help with developing a field guide, drop us a line and we would really love your company.

 

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!

‘Gaudy Sphinx’ Hawkmoth – Eumorpha labruscae

Hawkmoths are Sphingidae and one of the most amazing insects to arrive at the purpose-built moth wall in REGUA’s garden at night.   They are bulky and fly like nitro-fuelled rockets in what seems parabolas bashing themselves in the process coming to land under lamps.   Lepidopterists say that they are guided by stars and perhaps they believe they have landed just by one of the billions out in the sky at night.

Eumorpha labruscae

Curiously, wet evenings are best for the moth wall at REGUA, and it’s hard to see the stars at such times.  These moths are important pollinating species for many tree species of the Atlantic Rainforest, but their preferences remain to be researched.

This is an example of Eumorpha labruscae  and left Alan Martin author of REGUA publication,  Guide to the Hawkmoths of Serra do Orgaos green with envy as he hasn’t seen it.    Alan’s book says this is a widespread species and March was a good time to see it on the wall, so hopefully he will catch up with it on a future visit.

“Greenhouse Gases Arising from Reservoirs” workshop at REGUA

REGUA has just received the Federal University of Juiz de Fora and Uppsala University on a week-long workshop at REGUA as part of the International Research Council project “Greenhouse gases arising from reservoirs in Brasil”.

Workshop Delegates (© REGUA)

Reservoirs providing water to hydroelectric plants have always been perceived as “green energy” but in fact this is not always the case.    In partnership with Uppsala University and other partners, various doctorate and master students have worked over three years to study various reservoirs across the country to determine their long term effects and the results will help the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to perhaps cast a shadow as the future of their construction.

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.

Moustached Wren

Moustached Wren (© Adilei Carvalho de Cunha)

The Moustached Wren (Pheugopedius genibarbis) is quite a common Troglodyte here at REGUA especially around the wetlands.    A largish bird with unmistakeable black and white facial stripes, rufousy coloured back and wings, creamy under parts and the characteristic banded tail, it can be found in low undergrowth with its musical chirp feeding on insects.

Adilei attracted this male out of the brush and they had their moment of recognition, a brief duet and off he was looking for his insects.

Dutch herpetologist at REGUA

Masters student Hidde de Graff enrolled at University of Amsterdam has come to stay for three months at REGUA studying amphibians.    Professor Wouter Halfwerk organised Hidde’s stay here with Brazilian Dr. Mauricio Almeida and he has been conscientiously at work in the field.

Hidde in the Forest (© Raquel Locke)

Hidde is been analysing sound tracks from deliberately located microphones recording night sounds in forest fragments as a way to detect and identify the amphibian species present.    Every quarter of an hour those frogs calling will be recorded and later as he studies the sonograms, he will be able to identify the species present.

Dr Mauricio carried out a similar survey a few years ago and Hidde will be able to compare the results and see if there has been any species change and evaluate how accurate his findings are in terms of species identification.

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.