The Reserva Ecológica de Guapiaçu (REGUA) was established in 2001 to protect the remaining forests of the Guapiaçu valley, about 70 kilometres north of Rio de Janeiro. The most effective way to ensure this long-term protection is through land purchase, to create a continuous protected nature reserve around the valley sides. REGUA already protects over 18,000 acres and has planted over 250,000 trees in its efforts to restore cattle pasture to forest.
After 12 years of steady growth, REGUA has established itself as one of the most influential and active conservation organisations in south-east Brazil, and is now ready to build on its successes by embarking on a major new land purchase initiative. Land prices are starting to increase significantly, partly fuelled by the investment in roads and infrastructure flowing from the World Cup and Olympics to be held in Rio, but also from an increasing desire for city dwellers to build holiday homes. These uncontrolled developments are threatening to further fragment the forest unless we can purchase the key areas quickly.
In February this year the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest Trust (a UK registered charity that was created to support REGUA) held its first major fundraising evening at the Jockey Club in Carlton Terrace, London. The event was attended by about 40 people, some representing other charities but mostly individuals with an interest in our work. Nicholas Locke gave an informative presentation on the successes to date and our ambitious plans for the future.
REGUA has identified eleven properties covering 1,500 acres for purchase at a total cost of about £400,000 and the fundraising event in London has already secured pledges of £150,000 towards that target. In addition, the Rainforest Trust (the re-named World Land Trust US) has pledged a further £40,000 and is actively working to double this contribution. Meanwhile Nicholas at REGUA is working hard to map the land that we wish to acquire and to negotiate favourable prices with the landowners.
Although we have made a great start, there is still a massive fundraising task ahead of us if we are to reach our target. If you can help in any way please contact Alan Martin in the UK, or Paul Salaman of the Rainforest Trust in the US.