REGUA is now the second largest employer in the local community, proving that conservation can bring economic benefits as well as help biodiversity. Here are the staff that make REGUA such a special place.
Nicholas is the REGUA President and has supported the creation of the REGUA project since 1996 together with his wife Raquel.
Nicholas was born and raised in the UK. After taking A levels he headed to Brazil to take an apprenticeship with his uncle in Guapiaçu where his great grandparents had a farm. He built up a successful farm, married Raquel and their children Thomas and Micaela were raised in Guapiaçu.
His vision brought about the creation of REGUA and he has dedicated his time to the establishment and expansion of the reserve. His total commitment and energy has led to the successful project we see today. Through strong local relationships Nicholas has initiated the purchase of many key areas of land.
Although Nicholas can mostly be found in the office in front of a computer, he has many other interests including walking in the forest, vintage motorbikes, jazz, and his main relaxation – cooking (he makes a mean pizza!).
Raquel is REGUA Vice-President. Born in Santa Fe, Argentina, where her family had a farm, Raquel and Nicholas met through family friends and were soon married. She helped to build up the farm whilst raising their two children, Thomas and Micaela.
Instrumental in the inception of the Guapiaçu Community Association, Raquel has been invaluable in gaining the trust and support for the creation and development of REGUA. Raquel specialises in running REGUA’s outreach programme, and is heavily involved in the development of the education and research sectors of the project. She has been pivotal in building successful relationships with both the local community and Government bodies.
Raquel’s love for nature brought her to the area and she loves walking in the forests of REGUA. Her knowledge of the trees of the area is vast and walking in the newly planted areas and watching them develop is one of her favourite pastimes.
Tom was raised in Guapiaçu and growing up at REGUA has made it an important part of his life. After studying tourism in Rio de Janeiro, Tom went on to work at the world famous Copacabana Palace Hotel where he honed his customer service skills. Drawn back to Guapiaçu, Tom is now using his skills and experience to ensure guests at the lodge have as memorable stay as possible.
Fluent in Portuguese, Spanish and English, Tom enjoys meeting people and has the ability to engage with everyone he meets. Tom loves his home, enjoys riding his motorbike, going to the gym, and socialising – especially arranging parties and barbecues.
Born in the nearby town of Cachoeiras de Macacu, Micaela was brought up in Guapiaçu, studied at the local school here and knows the place very well. She then went to Rio de Janeiro to study Environmental Science, that included a year studying at Southampton University in the UK as part of a Brazilian Exchange Programme. Back to Rio, she then had the opportunity to work at the City Council at the Environmental Protection and Monitoring Department and also Climate Change Department.
Micaela is also interested in sanitation management and nowadays she is doing her Masters at the Rio de Janeiro Federal University, being part of the Environmental Engineering Programme. Together with her masters, she also worked for a small Engineering Company at the commercial department and this experience gave her more confidence to deal with clients, work in a group and understand how a small company works. Micaela is now also working part time for REGUA, assisting our Research Co-ordinator, Jorge, with promoting scientific research at REGUA, as well as showing people some of the exciting studies taking place here.
With her Argentinian and English background, Micaela is fluent in Spanish and English, and wants to learn Italian. She loves being outdoors, exercising, cooking, spending time with her family and friends and also being at home painting and sewing.
Adilei Carvalho da Cunha
Adilei is REGUA’s ace bird guide. He was born to hunting parents in Matumbo near REGUA and was well respected for his shooting skills. Adilei now lives in the tiny settlement of Estrieto above Matumbo, with his wife Denise.
When REGUA started in 2001, protection of the forests was essential and Adilei, as a known hunter, was invited to become a ranger. He accepted and began working in forest protection and his knowledge gained through hunting was transferred into deterring hunting. Our former bird guide, Leonardo Pimentel, recognized Adilei’s extraordinary capacity to imitate bird calls, and invited Adilei to accompany him on his surveys, teaching him the names of the birds.
Adilei found himself. His acute vision and intimate knowledge of the forest provided opportunities to expand his knowledge of bird calls and he soon learned the binomial, English and Brazilian names of every species regular at REGUA. He has learned some English and though he is a little shy he comes out with witty remarks that take everybody by surprise.
Today Adilei is now a highly experienced bird guide with field craft skills that are second to none, and he is renowned internationally as one of the finest bird guides in South America. With Adilei’s knowledge of the forest and his ability to imitate birds, guests come away with a unique birdwatching experience.
Adilei loves animals and now sees the folly of his upbringing. In his spare time Adilei enjoys spending time with his lovely grandson, who has inherited Adilei’s passion for nature.
Adilei’s guiding services are extremely popular and we strongly advise that you book early to avoid disappointment – see our guide rates.
Alcenir Sebastian Marques de Oliviera
Alcenir is the friendly smiling face who greets guests at the airport and runs our transfers to and from the lodge. Before REGUA was set up Alcenir farmed the land, working for Nicholas Locke’s uncle. He lives with his wife and family in Matumbo. When not driving he can often be found in our nursery or collecting seeds in the forest with his wife.
Alcenir loves meeting guests from all over the world and is passionate about learning English. He says “REGUA is everything to to me. Everyone here I think of as my family”.
Aldineia Pereira Rufino (Preta)
Cook and Domestic Assistant
Preta has been working at REGUA since 2004, when she joined her sister Lisa. She loves working at REGUA and lives nearby with her husband and two sons. Preta is very enthusiastic about her work and enjoys meeting guests from all over the world.
Arilson da Silva
He enjoys the tree planting but his real passion is walking in the forest. Arilson can see that planting trees brings direct benefits to people, he is very hard working but finds it equally rewarding. He has the same respect and care for trees as he has for the crops he needed to plant to make a living in the past.
Carlos José Quintanilha Sodré
Enviromental Education Officer
Carlos started working at REGUA in February 2014. He feels fulfilled with his new role as he realises he can contribute to educating the local children. He is aware that these children are very different compared to city youngsters. The children in this district are very sensitive to nature. With regard to school visits, Carlos mentioned that children coming to REGUA are enriched by the experience of their visit to the area. The children were unaware of the beautiful environment which the live in. He is very thankful for the opportunity The reserve of REGUA has offered him.
Cook and Domestic Assistant
Cleia is daughter to Marli who works in the nursery and sister to Sidney who cares for the garden, and joined the REGUA team in 2014. Cleia left the area as a young girl to work in Rio de Janeiro, but and following the death of her elderly employers, she returned to Guapiaçu. An amazing cook, she looks after all the volunteers and students who are studying at REGUA. She loves her work and aims for perfection, and always has a ready smile for everyone.
Denise Basconellos Borges de Cunha
Cook and Domestic Assistant
Denise lives in a nearby village called Estiento. She is currently learning to speak English, which will help her communicate with the international guests staying at the lodge. Denise has been working for REGUA since 2018 and is very happy working here. In her spare time, she enjoys reading non-fiction short stories as well as attending the local church. Denis is very helpful towards guests and always has a lovely smile on her face.
Jorge was born in Portugal and lived in East Timor before arriving in Brazil after training as a tropical medicine doctor and finding his interest lay in entomology. His passion for the tropics is unrivalled and Jorge is always excited with any new species. His knowledge is unchallenged for he loves the extraordinary diversity of insects in the Neotropics.
His main passion is butterflies and he has worked tirelessly in connecting caterpillars to their food plants. He collected data for and co-wrote REGUA’s first book, the definitive A Guide to the Hawkmoths of the Serra dos Orgaos, South-eastern Brazil, and also assisted with the recent study of dragonflies and damselflies at REGUA.
Jorge can usually be found in the REGUA Conservation Centre, helping researchers and providing support in their field studies. In his spare time he also enjoys baking.
Levi Pereira Pinto
Levi is in charge of trail maintenance, and also accompanies guests and researchers on their walks into the forest. He is very thankful for all the knowledge and experience he is gaining from REGUA.
Loan Nunes Heringer
General Maintenance Officer
Loan lives in the nearby community of Areal where he lives with his wife Natalia and their daughter Ana Beatriz. Loan completed his secondary schooling at Guapiaçú school and started working at REGUA in 2013 as part of the planting staff, where he showed his enthusiasm for planting trees and a special skill to deal with machines and tools.
Loan is very proud of being part of the REGUA team and firmly believes that REGUA’s conservation mission in the Guapiaçú valley is of extreme importance. He has been quoted as saying that he can “now witness water sources coming back to life. The forest is being protected and all the animals in it are safe.”
Loan says that tree planting is essential to guarantee our survival and he acknowledges that REGUA’s work has changed people’s perception of the environment. Loan wishes to learn English so as to best communicate with REGUA’s international guests.
Head of Nursery
Mauricio was born in Guapiaçu and has worked for REGUA since 2002. He is self-taught and has acquired a wealth of knowledge that has made him responsible for the production of around 80,000 trees per annum. REGUA is proud to name him as ‘father of the planted forests’, since most of the seedlings have passed through his hands.
Messias has been working for REGUA since 2010 and is highly committed to protecting the animals of the forest from hunters. He understands the value of restoring degraded areas as well as caring for the remaining forest we already have, and enjoys to see peoples perception of forest conservation changing for the better.
Rildo da Rosa Oliveira
Rildo is a very experienced ranger and has been working for REGUA since 2001. Rildo patrols the forest ensuring that there are no hunters trespassing in REGUA. He understands the importance his role of forest ranger has in contributing to the well-being of the forest environment and is extremely dedicated and a very responsible member of staff, with a very happy and positive nature. In addition to patrolling the forest, Rildo also accompanies researchers and guests on forest walks.
Sidnei cares lovingly for the lodge garden and land around the Conservation Centre, maintains the bird feeders, and also helps maintain the trails. He was born in Guapiaçu and has worked all his life on farms until starting work for REGUA in 2004. Sidnei is married to Lisa and is the son of Marli. He loves to be busy and always has a ready smile reflecting his kind nature.
Cook and Domestic Assistant
Vanda is sister to Lisa and Preta and started working at REGUA in 2013. Vanda is famous for making an excellent manioc flour and her style of cooking is hugely appreciated. Vanda’s husband works in the local fish farm and she has three grown-up sons who work locally. She is a doting mother and always wears a smile that inspires friendship and kindness.