Category Archives: Community

Young Rangers get a surprise!

As in many of our Young Ranger programmes, the students are taken to the latest area of reforestation – eleven years on and this year was no different.

Boots for the Young Rangers. Raquel with João (© Nicholas Locke)

On one recent visit to the Morro Pai Velho, local resident João and his wife saw the group of Young Rangers on their work without adequate footwear.   He decided there and then to order 30 pairs of wellington boots to equip the students.

He said that when he was growing up, he hadn’t any to wear and was so impressed by REGUA’s commitment to the younger generation that he wanted to find a way to reward them with this generous present.

Many thanks for your generosity João!

Restoration Pact Workshop takes place at REGUA

REGUA recently hosted the Atlantic Rainforest Restoration Pact workshop.   The Restoration Pact is made up of all the environmental projects that are in some ways contributing to increasing forest cover in the biome.

Headed by the Brazilian organization CEPAN, and funded by German development bank, KfW, REGUA hosted this three day workshop with professionals in the field o

Course Participants (© REGUA)

f restoration from all over Brazil.

Severino and Ludmilla, led the group and the aim of the three days here was to test and improve monitoring techniques needed for the Pact restoration process.

Itself a member, this was also an opportunity to present REGUA’s work and the group was divided into three teams to test the techniques the Pact had developed.   Out in the field the groups were very impressed with REGUA’s forest restoration process which left us not only proud of our efforts but committed to continue reforesting.

This is often the type of support needed to reach out and keep up the motivation factor. We are only too happy to contribute.

Congratulations Miguel Conceição

REGUA’s Young ranger Miguel Conceição has successfully completed his guide training course with honours.   The course was administrated by the State organisation, INEA and Três Picos State Park with the aim to qualify and prepare youths as professional guides in the region’s parks.

The course  focuses on youngsters who like nature and Miguel was selected after showing a real aptitude for nature in our Young Ranger programme.

Miguel Conceição with sister, mother, Prof Carlos and Raquel Locke (© REGUA)

Everyone at REGUA is very proud of his achievement – it just shows that with determination and perseverance one can achieve great things.    Our education officer Professor Carlos is thrilled with his star pupil however,  he is adamant, that all of the youngsters participating in this course have the capability to achieve this type of success.

As Miguel says, “It is my dream to become a biologist”.    His mother is rightly very proud and overjoyed as the course has inspired and instilled many values with the local youngsters, and says REGUA has been the best thing to happen to her family.    Wow!!!

We owe it to people like Miguel who believe in what we are doing and are prepared to take up the opportunities that are offered their life.    Thank you also to INEA for offering the chance to change this young man’s life.

Water Erosion Education

REGUA’s Prof. Carlos held a workshop with students

Professor Carlos with the students (© Sue Healey)

ts from a Cachoeiras de Macacu Secondary School.   They were here to find out about the importance of trees to the provision of reliable clean water.

After a short talk, they watched a practical demonstration by Prof. Carlos, showing how when the land is devoid of trees, often compacted, eroded and maybe built upon, the rain runs straight off into the nearby river courses.   When the rain is heavy this can lead to flooding, but in any event it takes with it silt and any residual chemicals previously used on the land.

On the other side of our model valley there are trees.   Their roots bind the soil, reducing erosion and allowing the surface of the land to accept the rain, filtering it and slowing down the risk of any flooding.   After watching as water was poured over both sides of the valley, highlighting the differences, the students went off to see the reforested areas around the wetlands.

An excited group (© Sue Healey)

 

A weekend of Birding at REGUA

The Rio de Janeiro Birding Calender for 2017 successfully kicked off on March 11th and 12th at REGUA.

Some 30 local birders came to enjoy the wetlands and waterfall trail.    An early start, followed by Cirilo’s guiding enabled many first time birders to walk the yellow trail and see many of the over 180 species found in this habitat.

Some of the group with Cirilo (© Raquel Locke)

There were ample opportunities to present the work that REGUA has been devoted to and the project’s future plans.

People are always very receptive and positive and the end of the day was filled with promises of return visits and future enjoyment.

 

Guide Training – part of REGUA’s Education work

Rio’s State Environmental Institute (INEA) organized a summer training course called “Trail Guiding” whose target audience were participants from the local areas of Cachoeiras de Macacu and Guapimirim. Thirty people enrolled in this course including REGUA’s young ranger Miguel – just shows how inspiring REGUA can be!

The course participants with REGUA staff (©REGUA)

The aim is to prepare local guides to help visitors at the Três Picos Park and Natural Park at Macacu. The guides love nature and need to gain experience, knowledge and confidence to show visitors all the beauty and diversity of the Atlantic Forest.

Part of the course covers Bird guiding, and as Regua’s guides have become well known for their skill and knowledge, we were happy to host the birdwatching event around our restored wetlands.   Adilei de Carvalho and Cirilo Vieira, Regua’s bird guides, were in charge of the training, giving a talk on what birding is about and showed them some of the most representative lowland species in the wetlands.

Young Ranger Programme

REGUA’s Young Rangers programme has been very successful this year with a huge participation by local adolescents.

REGUA’S teacher, locally known as ‘Professor Carlos’ has divided the entire group of 30 children into two age groups helping to keep them focused on the subjects he believes important.

Young Rangers
Young Rangers (© Gustavo Pedro)

This year marked its 11th anniversary and the results could not be more positive.

The aim of the programme is to remind the children that not only do they live in a precious environment but they are responsible for its care. The weekly visits to REGUA provide opportunities for lessons in the environment, social development punctuated with walks and visits, activities in the local community, lectures by resident researchers and excursions. The Young Rangers love it and every year increasingly more children want to join the programme.

Guanabara Watershed Committee

REGUA have been invited to attend meetings of the Eastern Bay of Guanabara Watershed Committee (held in Niteroi city) which is gaining momentum and reputation.   The Group discuss and plan the future requirements of water use for the general public, government and industry.

This is an important committee to have representation in, as the concept of payments for ecological  services is gradually being discussed and could possibly soon be implemented.   REGUA may be eligible for future payments as we protect the water of the Guapiaçu river and restore forests in the watershed.

Raquel Locke, REGUA’s Vice President and Lorena an independent mapping consultant working with REGUA, will attend these meetings.   The Rio de Janeiro Government accepts and understands the strategic importance of the eastern Guanabara bay area for the provision of clean drinking water to eastern Rio de Janeiro and its metropolitan areas.

The Guapiaçu and Macacu rivers have their sources in Cachoeiras de Macacu Municipality.   Together they provide water to over 3.5 million people in Metropolitan Rio de Janeiro and the inclusion of REGUA within this initiative enables us to encourage the replication of our model within this vital area.

 

REGUA – Building Relationships

REGUA’s collaboration in the Guapiaçu Grande Vida Project brought many long-term advantages to the Reserve.   A team made up of professionals with experience in project management, forest engineering, public engagement, education from school to local authority level, mapping, publicity and media promotion.   All had roots in the municipality and together were able to develop and implement a project that took REGUA into the main stream of conservation work in Brazil.

During the two and a half years of the project, GGV was a tremendous success.   Planting 100 hectares of Atlantic Forest with 180,000 trees, mapping almost half the 450km ² watershed, consolidating an education programme involving 5,000 school children and responsible for REGUA’s first scientific seminar with 50 works amongst University researchers.

The project helped upscale REGUA’s capacity in forest restoration, fostered an understanding of the municipal’s environmental importance and enabled REGUA to identify land use and forest cover, which in turn helped prioritize areas for further land purchase.   The project terminated at the end of 2015,  but we are grateful for their contribution.

 

REGUA GGV Project Team
REGUA GGV Project Team (© Tatiana Horta)

The team, although dispersed, continues to be active.   Gabriela now works for German development bank GIZ, promoting development work across Brazil, she also runs her own environmental consultancy.   Tatiana and Bruno have returned to teaching.  Nathalie is working in tourism in her own lodge.

Lorena is an independent geographer and continues to have ties with REGUA, representing the institution at the Guanabara Watershed Committee and Agenda 21 meetings.    Aline is a freelance Forestry Engineer working with REGUA to design new planting areas and continuing to monitor previous reforestation areas.

Professor Carlos works at REGUA on a part-time basis, expanding our Schools Outreach and Young Ranger programmes whilst Ana Caroline has joined the staff continuing to give REGUA her best in the office.

REGUA is very grateful for their input and proud to be able to play a part in the continued success of these valued friends and welcome their support in the future.

Building a community

dscn2136-600x400-thomas-locke
Sandra in her restaurant (© Tom Locke)
gorp1710-600x400-thomas-locke
Jossué in his shop (© Tom Locke)

One of the most rewarding parts of REGUA’s work is being able to bring real change to the local community. Two people have really changed the future for their family, by using the skills they have used and enhanced whilst working for the project.

Sandra Aparecida started working at REGUA before the lodge was built, and started off looking after the first researchers who stayed at Casa Pesquisa (House of Research). Sandra then worked with Raquel Locke, building a range of dishes which were based on the local recipes. For over a decade Sandra worked with the team of ladies at the lodge preparing delicious meals for our guests. Today, she is running a family restaurant in the local village of Matumbo with her husband.

Jossué Ouverney Heringer joined the project in 2002, and worked as REGUA’s driver and handyman. Using the skills he honed from maintaining the lodge, conservation centre and keeping REGUA’s vehicles on the road, he has built a shop in Matumbo, and set up a motorbike repair shop which also sells drinks, and snacks made by Jossue’s wife.

REGUA would like to thank both Sandra and Jossué for all their hard work and commitment and wish them both great success in their new ventures.

Red-billed Curassow sighting – June 2012

Male Red-billed Curassow <em>Crax blumenbachii</em>, Estreito near REGUA, June 2012 (&copy; Lee Dingain)
Male Red-billed Curassow Crax blumenbachii, Estreito near REGUA, June 2012 (© Lee Dingain)
10 year old Camila named the curassow Aparecido - the one that appeared (&copy; Rachel Walls)
10 year old Camila named the curassow Aparecido – the one that appeared (© Rachel Walls)

During Lee’s and Rachel’s visit to REGUA, we had the chance of visiting the high Matumbo area (Estreito) where a Red-billed Curassow (male) has chosen to make his residence. We were informed that this bird had suddenly appeared in the grounds of this weekend home belonging to Senhor João from Rio de Janeiro.

The Red-billed Curassow was baptized with the name of “Aparecido”, which means the one that appeared (in the Portuguese language) by Camila, a 10 year old girl, who enthusiastically provided the name for this bird. Camila’s father is the caretaker of this place and he mentioned to us that Aparecido has been seen in this area for the last two months. Aparecido is regularly seen both within Senhor João’s chicken coup and in the surrounding forest adjacent to REGUA’s land.

Aparecido is showing the behaviour of a wild bird, weary of human presence. With the help of Jacob Hall and Katerina Samara, conservation biology students volunteering at REGUA, we aim at collecting data on the existing Red-billed Curassow population within the reserve and adjacent areas.

More photos of this fascinating bird can be found here.

REGUA spared of the terrible mudslides

Our summer at REGUA is normally a time associated with intense heat and a lot of rain, and this last month it has been no different. The speed at which houses are built in what are called “irregular sites” defies all of Brazil’s municipal and state planning departments. The increasing demands for building sites, especially economic housing, their disrespect to environmental laws, cutting costs in building materials coupled with the governments incapacity to control urban expansion, backlog of routine inspections, with their limited staff, and an all too well known tardiness in judicial action, all cumulate to produce an extensive history of disasters in landslides over the last 50 years. And now our growing knowledge of climatic change only furthers our concern for those living in precarious conditions. Last Tuesday to Wednesday night, massive Cumulus nimbus clouds associated with a colossal amount of moisture encountered a freak pressure area over Nova Friburgo and Teresópolis and the resulting unleashed rain amounted to between 270mm and 350mm within a few hours. This unprecedented deluge met with the already moist soil conditions and it didn’t take long for landslides to form on forested slopes as well those with houses, with unbelievably horrendous results. Areas where we had lived in Friburgo and travelled through on our way to birding sites have seen massive mud and earth slides and rivers of tsunami proportions passing through these areas, completely covering cars, crumpling houses and destroying bridges and roads with a tremendous loss of life.

These tradegies one always sees on TV seem far removed, but when you see it in real life having known the area quite well, the enormity of our own fragile existence and the stupid things we are doing to the environment hit home. Fortunately we were spared of these rains and our area of REGUA saw no landslides and though we have felt a huge amount of rain all is in order. Sadly a known Três Picos Park ranger by the name of Verly (first on the left in the photo) died and we knew him as the man who brought a caiman to REGUA’s wetlands and for his devoted line for his duty to arresting hunting and forest fires. There has been a huge effect of solidariety and people are helping in every way. Your thoughts are with us.