Most of the research carried out at REGUA is on the biodiversity and behaviour of species. Over the last few years however, one student from Europe has been studying the effect that the project has had on the local population.
Between for almost two years Peter Slovák conducted field research in Brazil as a part of his Doctorate study at the University of Sussex, UK. The project was entitled ‘Private Protected Areas and Local Communities in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil: What are the Implications for Rural Development and Nature Conservation?’
The project’s focus is on the socio-economic and cultural aspects of the relationship between private conservation projects established in vulnerable natural habitats and the people living in rural communities in their vicinity. The aim was to shed more light on the impacts the project has on rural communities and their perceptions and interactions with the surrounding natural environment.
To find out more the methodology was based on observations, interviews and oral testimonies, and also required that Peter participate in everyday life and activities of the REGUA Reserve as well as the local communities.
He received training and dedicated considerable time to the study of Portuguese, but nothing could have really prepared him for the challenges encountered in the field. Ethnographic fieldwork requires a researcher to adapt to an ‘alien’ culture. Therefore, the choice of fieldwork place is as crucial as the relevance and accessibility.
Peter already knew the REGUA project from a trip to Brazil in 2008 when he spent two months as a volunteer. Inspiring conversations with Nicholas Locke the Project Director, planted the seed of interest in his mind. Thus, he was delighted when REGUA agreed to host his research project enabling his return in 2012.
The main supporters of the project were: Project Directors, Nicholas and Raquel Locke, Research Co-ordinator Jorge Bizarro, and Field Co-ordinator José Luiz Rogick Motta. Together with the rest of the REGUA team they helped to provide the excellent conditions for the completion of the fieldwork, providing constant support and assistance.
With the stunning views of Serra do Mar, friendly local people and great food, REGUA offers all that is important for a researcher: a favourable working environment and conditions for any research related to nature conservation.