Guapiaçu Grande Vida (GGV) Petrobrás funded project is back at REGUA!
On September 11th the GGV team gathered at REGUA to start the work which will be carried out during the next two years.
With the restoration of a further 60 hectares of degraded land and the monitoring of water quality in the Guapiaçú and Macacu rivers (at six fixed points in both rivers upstream and downstream), the GGV project aims at contributing to the safeguarding of a healthy forest ecosystem and fresh water availability for human consumption.
The innovation of the GGV second phase is the inclusion of Cachoeiras de Macacu County Council as a formal partner with the assignment of a teacher and a biologist to assist the GGV Environmental Education staff.
The GGV official launch took place on September 21st at the County Council headquarters in Cachoeiras de Macacu town. Petrobras representatives, local authorities including the Council´s Mayor and civil society representatives attended the ceremony.
The GGV monitoring of 100 hectares planted in 2013 will be included as part of the forest restoration programme. A training course for this purpose will be held for the tree-planting staff at REGUA’s Conservation Centre. Growth rates and biomass are to be measured by the students.
The GGV Environmental Education programme based on the monitoring of water quality in the Guapiaçú and Macacu rivers will select 40 students from one County Council run school and one State run school in Cachoeiras de Macacu town. The selected group of students are currently undertaking their first and second year of secondary school level education. The students will be selected according to their grades and their interest to take part in this innovative water quality monitoring of the Guapiaçú and Macacu rivers. The GGV Environmental Education team will use rented vehicles to transport the students from their schools to the water monitoring sites.
The Environmental Education programme will also organize a teacher training course and a training course for nature guides. These two courses envision the use of the wetland trails maximising their educational potential for school and group visits.
Kaitlin and Bobby are currently volunteering at REGUA. Their main project is to help Adilei and Cirilo show the wonderful bird- and wild-life to visitors, but they still find time to do some exploring . . .
“Today Bobby and I were asked to survey a potential trail that winds through an area reforested in 2011-12 with the help of Petrobras. We were amazed to see such a dramatic amount of growth for such a short amount of time, as well as the diversity of tree species used to jumpstart this section of forest which was once open pasture. Most of the trees were well above our heads!
It was a hot and sunny day, which can effect bird activity, but we still managed to count over 40 bird species using the area already! It will be exciting to see how species composition changes as the forest progresses.
Walking by the wetlands at REGUA along the Yellow or Brown trail, a small bird can surprise many with its fierce song of bravado.
One has to peer through the tangles of brush to catch a glimpse of the melodious Long-billed Wren (Cantorchilus longirostris), one of the Atlantic Rainforest endemic species. Though the call is well known, its intensity is surprising but it is merely reminding us that we are entering his territory.
The Yellow and Brown trails at REGUA pass through the middle of replanted lowland forest, and the presence of this species indicates the forest has provided a new home for many avian species.
This is what we want, a new habitat we created that now provides many new homes for its true inhabitants.
We are delighted to report that the donation from the Danish Travel Fund that led to the acquisition of Anderson’s property in 2014 has resulted in a dramatic change within the Matumbo Valley.
The highly degraded and eroded area is on the road towards the Waldenoor trail on the way to Matumbo. Until last year cattle were being grazed there and it is amazing how quickly birds and insects come into land after planting.
REGUA planted 25,000 native trees on this 13 hectare site between November 2016 and January 2017 and the weather has been most favourable.
The trees are growing very well. Thank you Danish Travel Fund for helping to acquire this strategically important area and to the World Land Trust through their “Plant a tree Fund” for financing the tree planting.
In 2013 we started our most ambitious plan – to plant over 160,000 native trees in a 100 hectare area bridging the gap between the forest of the Green Trail and the Guapiaçu River and village. The first major tranche of planting started in November 2013.
We completed planting the 100 hectare site in 2016 – and there are already a large number of diverse species taking advantage of the new habitat created by these young trees. Many of these trees fruited in the first year, providing food for many insects and birds. As the trees have grown and shaded the ground the under-storey has started to clear and mammal tracks are visible in the ever increasing leaf litter.
One of the best ways to assess the improvement in the planting is to survey the bird species seen. Our resident bird guides have been surveying some of the newly planted areas, and good species indicators of the increasing quality of the new forests that we area already finding are Saw-billed Hermit, Black-cheeked Gnateater and Channel-billed Toucan.
Many other species are also moving into the area including White Woodpecker, Scaly-headed Parrot, Olivaceous and Lesser Woodcreeper, and Laughing Falcon.
A large flock of Maroon-belled Parakeet have been feeding in the area for several weeks, along with White-bearded Manakin, Chestnut-vented Conebill, Yellow-breasted Flycatcher, Yellow Olive Flycatcher. Tanager species have also been seen including Green-headed, Red-necked Tanager, Flame-crested and Yellow-backed.
The birds will disperse the seeds from these trees back into our established forest and strengthen the bio-diversity across the whole reserve and beyond. What better evidence could we wish for to encourage our work.
“Well I am back in Canada now .. after six fantastic weeks at REGUA.
I accomplished what I went there to do – to learn as much as I could about their reforestation program, and also have a great time. I had the opportunity to collect tree seeds in the forest, help with the process producing seedlings from these in the REGUA nursery, and even plant some trees too. I plan to go back .. for the tree planting season – this was only the beginning for me.
The constant stream of researchers that stay there too, looking at everything from bats to frogs and owls .. made things even more interesting.
For anyone interested in tropical reforestation and ecology, I highly recommend spending some time at REGUA. Thank you to all the people at REGUA, you were wonderful – and so was the food and accommodation, I think I even put on a little weight. Thor”
Thor has returned from the north of Brazil, and revisited REGUA and his cuttings in our nursery on his way home to Canada.
Talking to him about the progress of his project made interesting conversation. He enjoyed the whole experience of being in Brazil, and making new friends at REGUA and found his time with us an excellent opportunity to learn about different techniques of tropical forestation. From helping in the nursery, planting the seeds in prepared pots to planting the trees, Thor took on board the whole process.
He particularly enjoyed his time walking with Mauricio [head nurseryman] and Barata [forest ranger] in the forest, collecting seeds and trying to identify the myriad of tree species.
As for his project – to experiment with taking tree cuttings rather than germinating seeds. Thor has just re-checked his samples. Although they were probably not take at the ideal time of year there were at least a dozen new plants from the Marianeira (acnistus arborescens) species and a couple of Tabebuia cassinoides.
Thor plans to return at a different time of year and next time maybe use hormone rooting powder. As he says
“REGUA and many other projects in the tropics are still having problems germinating some species of tree and if I try at a different time of year we may have more success.
I also want to go and see other projects here in Brazil. Before I come back however, I need to tackle identifying some of the tree species and they are overwhelming here. I would recommend REGUA totally as an experience, with its peace and quiet and such welcoming people, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here.”
Peter Gammeltoft recently made a visit to REGUA. Peter is the former head of Water and Marine Environment in the European Commission and currently the President of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICDPR) which involves 14 European Countries in its watershed as contracting parties.
Peter was invited to Brazil by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to advise the Brazilian Government on water policy.
Peter is a family relation of Nicholas and Raquel Locke and they took advantage of his time and knowledge to show what REGUA is doing for the environment in this microcosm of the world.
Questions flowed and doubts ebbed as conversations showed that our principles are not too far behind the thinking needed in territorial design and ecosystem functionality.
Peter remarked “It was really great to see all the good work you are doing at Regua. This type of work is very important, and I was very impressed to hear about how you are managing to ensure local support. “
We wish him and the OECD team all the success in the current decisions that are so very important for the future.
Planting trees on degraded soils is never easy. Over time, the soil loses most of its nutrients, becomes compacted, and is very often too steep to even walk on. The land owners give up areas that cannot be mechanized and allow it to turn into poor quality pasture where it can be burned occasionally to keep it free from weeds. Soils lose the carbon granules that bind soil together and slowly micro-bacterial life drains out allowing heavy rain to start ugly gully erosion.
These are the soils that REGUA wants to return to forests before they become an ecological disaster zone, an eyesore and are also too expensive to retrieve. Owners are reticent to allow REGUA to convert tired uphill land to forest as they think their properties will lose value. The owners don’t want to sell the land as there is little else to buy with the money. However REGUA has experience and in its stubbornness gently inches forward to improve the Guapiaçu valley.
The hillside of the Protestant land is one that poses a challenge for it is currently in grass, very steep and already has some gullies formed by heavy rain.
Professor André Tavares Correa Dias of the Department of Ecosystem Ecology at Rio de Janeiro State University, is himself involved in restoring bauxite residual dumping grounds in Pará State visited us and we took him to see our challenges. He was very pleased with the results to date. Our trees are planted just before the rains – the best time to build a forest. We only hope the rains won’t bring the hill down before the trees have time to bind the soil!
Last year’s planting season was in November, and the mortality rate was quite acceptable given the factors, so we are hopeful that we will be able to establish these new forests at REGUA to the benefit of the biodiversity, its community and the valley’s overall ecological functionality.
REGUA volunteer Thor Smestad hails from British Columbia, Canada. He came to Brazil to fulfill a dream, to plant trees in Brazil.
With a diploma in Forestry Technology and a degree in Forest Resources Management, Thor brings a new approach to our propagation model. As he is a specialist in propagation from from cuttings he started by taking cuttings from four Brazilian species to test how successful they are in rooting. This would be a major breakthrough in reducing reforestation costs and his cuttings placed in buckets with small air pumps lay in tubs of water waiting to root. Thor has seen the re-forested areas and the latest areas planted and is amazed at the scale in which REGUA is working. He has offered some valuable contributions in improving the quality of planting. We were able to reward Thor by planting two very special seedlings of “Guarajuba”, (Terminalia acuminate) donated by the botanist Pablo Prieto.
We had heard about these endangered trees from Pablo, a senior researcher at the Botanical Gardens in Rio de Janeiro. He is involved in compiling the Red data list of plants of the Atlantic Forest. Guarajuba wood was well known for its high quality timber which was used to for buildings and boats. Being valuable led to trees being cut down in huge numbers. There are six individual Guarajuba trees in the Botanical Gardens of Rio de Janeiro, but when botanists started searching in the forests around Rio city and in the best remaining tracts of forest, none could be found. It was thought that the species had been lost in the wild.
However upon researching the Tijuca forest last year, botanists came across 28 examples of this very species. They had probably been planted in 1861-1874 when Major Archer spearheaded the reforestation of the degraded hill under Christ the Redeemer as its water sources had dried up. Pablo found some seeds under this tree and germinated them at home. He generously brought two examples for us to plant at front of REGUA.
This is just terrific and short of opening a bottle of champagne to celebrate we are overjoyed that Thor could plant both the trees for us and hope that in a few years we shall also have seeds to plant elsewhere.
REGUA planted its 400,000 tree on November 23rd 2016. The tree species to get this wonderful accolade is “Angelim de morcego”, Andira anthelmia.
One of Raquel’s favourite trees, the planting was made possible by the World Land Trust UK as part of its “Plant a tree” fund, and with the land donated to REGUA by the Danish Travel Fund this was truly a team success. This particular piece of land is very important as it faces the High Matumbo community and strengthens the barrier of the forest.
This marks a very important point in history for us all and we can only hope that we can, with your support continue to plant trees and reach a million!
90% of REGUA’s trees come from its plant nursery and the entire process of restoration involves local community members and is admired by local residents.
Thank you again – this just proves what can be done when we work together and there is the will to succeed.
The forests at REGUA are growing! The area known to friends as the Protestant land in the Matumbo Gap was an area of pasture that REGUA had long wanted to reforest. It represented a corridor that could link precious areas to the main REGUA block of forest.
The World Land Trust had helped us acquire the land in 2014 but the thick mat of imperata or brachiaria grasses was not permitting trees to germinate and gain a foothold. The answer lay in an assisted planting scheme.
The World land Trust helped us again with a grant “Forests of the Future Fund” and Seotaiji the great South Korean singer helped us with the necessary funds to enable the planting of 10,000 REGUA nursery native trees. Only a year later the results show for themselves.
We have taken many guests and specialists who have been bowled over with the rapid growth of the trees showing that the trees are anxious to form a forest once again. The weather was kind to us after an initial drought and since we have been looking very well after the forests. I wish all forests could grow so quickly!
We are now preparing another area for the World Land Trust “Forests of the Future” programme, but thank you World Land Trust and Seotaiji so much for this important support.
One very desirable bird found in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest is Sharpbill Oxyrincus cristatus. This enigmatic bird with its distinctive orange eye is never easy to find and many of REGUA’s visitors wish to see it during their visit.
It has a wide distribution and is not uncommon, with a call resembling the sound of a falling bomb without the explosion at the end. It appears to be more concentrated in areas of mature secondary or primary Atlantic Forest where it is often found high in the canopies searching for fruit.
Imagine Gustavo Pedro de Paula’s surprise as he spotted the bird feeding low down on Trema micrantha fruit by the REGUA wetlands recently. Gustavo took several photos and suggested that the presence of this species denoted the maturity of the forests by the wetlands, a real sign of the success of our reforestation project. Gradually the more common open ground species are being displaced as the trees around are growing and maturing.
Upon closer examination of the image one could think that the bird was inspecting some chrysalides left by a butterfly. Some tasty morsels so to speak! In any case we extend a big thank you to Gustavo for sharing the image with us.
The weather at REGUA has been very wet this October but laced with hot sunny days.
The Planting Team are getting ready to plant the area that caught fire earlier in the year. This is an area of degraded grass. It is a good area and the burning actually accelerated the process of clearing the grass as we prepared the land for planting the trees.
The trees waiting in the nursery to be planted out, and we have been gathering seeds and making new seedlings for next year’s planting already.
We aim to start planting in November and will be planting around 25,000 trees in this area.
Last years area of 10,000 trees looks great with strong growth, we have continued to maintain the land by clearing the grass from around the young trees and keeping an eye out for fires and pest damage.
The largest areas REGUA planted in 2013/2015 are also looking fantastic with a Bare-throated Bellbird Procnias nudicollis calling around the trees.
Ben Phalan and Luciana Leite de Araújo got married recently in Arembepe, Bahia, Brazil. Both are environmentally concerned and decided to offset the 133 tonnes of carbon emissions created by themselves, their family and friends in travelling to the wedding. Although most of their guests were from within Brazil, their multi-nation guests came from as far away as Salvador, Oregon and Philadelphia in the US, Prague, England, Scotland and Ireland.
They chose two projects dear to them – REGUA and the Golden Lion Tamarin project. Ben and Luciana also gave away native “Ipé Rosa” seedlings to Brazilian friends at the wedding in commemoration of their union.
Thank you Ben and Luciana and may your trees grow and grow. The funds will be used for REGUA’s restoration project and will enable us to plant around 400 trees.
Earlier this year, a 9 hectare area of land in Matumbo was replanted. This land was acquired through fundraising by our invaluable partners, the World Land Trust and a total of 15,000 native trees were planted here. A year on and the trees are establishing themselves, as shown in this photograph.
This brings the total number of trees planted by REGUA to date up to 350,000!
Work will commence shortly on the next piece of land to be replanted. The difficult task of preparing the soil by scorching the non-native African grass has started, ready for the tree saplings to be planted towards the end of the year.
The old plant nursery of REGUA was located near a small stream and surrounded by secondary and riparian forest, making it a very attractive playground for all kinds of insects, such as butterflies. Actually, it was an excellent spot to observe the rather elusive metalmarks (Riodinidae) and magnificent hairstreaks (Lycaenidae). It was not unusual to see female butterflies ovipositing on the young tree saplings, attracted by the tender leaves and shots; a couple of new REGUA records were found by rearing some of those caterpillars.
Last year REGUA’s nursery was moved to an open sunny area, by the side of the reserve main gates, thus potentially becoming less attractive for the mentioned arthropod fauna. So, on 29 March it was quite a surprise and joy to see a female of one of the largest south American hairstreaks, Marsyas Hairstreak or Cambridge Blue Pseudolycaena marsyas (Linnaeus, 1758), a flying ‘piece of the Sky’ – laying eggs on seedlings of at least three different species of Leguminosae (Pterocarpus violaceus, Inga sp. and Mimosa sp.). Not only is REGUA planting forest, but the saplings are moved to the field already carrying some of its related insect fauna!
Further information on Marsyas Hairstreak Pseudolycaena marsyas: