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 Locke

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!).

REGUA President Nicholas Locke (© Alan Martin)
Raquel Locke

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.

REGUA Vice-President Raquel Locke (© Sue Healey)
Thomas Locke
Lodge Host

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.

Lodge Host, Thomas Locke (© Sue Healey)
Lodge Host, Thomas Locke (© Sue Healey)
Micaela Locke
Research Coordinator

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.

Research Coordinator, Micaela Locke (© Raquel Locke)
Research Coordinator, Micaela Locke (© Raquel Locke)
Adilei Carvalho da Cunha
Bird Guide

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.

Adilei showing birds to guests (© John Feltwell)
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”.

Our friendly driver Alcenir is usually the first of us that guests meet, as Alcenir does most of our transfers to and from Rio (© Lee Dingain)
Arilson da Silva
Forest Ranger

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.

Arilson (© Joy Braker)
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.

Cleia (© Joy Braker)
Jorge Bizarro
Research Coordinator

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.

Jorge (© Joy Braker)
Levi Pereira Pinto
Forest Ranger

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.

Levi (© Joy Braker)
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.

Loan Nunes Heringer (© REGUA)
Matheus Cardoso da Silva
Forest Ranger

Matheus is the nephew of REGUA Ranger, Messias. He was born in Teresópolis, some one and a half hours drive from REGUA, but was brought up in the Lagoinha Valley, close to REGUA. Matheus is part of a large family who have lived in the Lagoinha Valley for many years. The Lagoinha area sits on the mountain range that connects some of REGUA’s properties to the Three Peaks Park in Teresópolis. It’s a remote and beautiful place, however there’s no electricity available nor proper roads to get there, so Matheus had to work hard to study, often leaving home by 5 am to get to school on time. His lifestyle and training helped him to become a very athletic young man, and today, one of his favourite hobbies is hiking and being a nature guide.

His work at REGUA has enabled him to become passionate about birds, motivating him to learn their English and scientific names. He also enjoys accompanying REGUA’s environmental engineer Aline Damasceno on monitoring activities in REGUA’s restored areas.


Mauricio Noqueira
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.

Mauricio (© Paul Bamford)
Messias Gomes
Forest Ranger

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.

Messias (© Joy Braker)
Moisés Neves de Figueiredo
Forest Ranger

Moisés was born in Cachoeiras de Macacu and has always lived in the Santa Maria neighbourhood, a rural community a little further from REGUA. He has been working since he was 14 years old, and his first job was as an agriculturist. He used to sell bananas at the food supply centre in Rio de Janeiro called Ceasa, and later on worked with dairy cattle products in Japuíba, Cachoeiras de Macacu.

He started working at REGUA in 2020, as REGUA needed a ranger who could patrol some areas in the Santa Maria area, where REGUA has been acquiring some properties through its land purchase programme. Moises offered to fill in the position, as he had heard wonders about REGUA, and is extremely happy to be part of REGUA’s team.

Moisés has been married to his wife Joseli for 30 years and they have three children. He loves the quietness of Santa Maria and doesn’t want to leave his neighbourhood. He likes being at home taking it easy with his family and going to church with Joseli.


Rildo da Rosa Oliveira
Forest Ranger

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.

Rildo is one of our most experienced rangers and often accompanies guests on walks into the forest (© Joy Braker)