One of the primary objectives of REGUA has always been the development and provision of an environmental education programme for the students and community groups living within the Guapiaçu basin. REGUA’s conservation work will never succeed in the long-term unless the local residents understand the importance of protecting the unique and threatened environment in which they live, and value its biodiversity.
REGUA’s environmental education programme started in 1999 working with the children in the surrounding schools. One of the early aims was to teach them about the damage caused by illegal hunting, in the hope that they could influence their families and challenge some of their traditional and more destructive behaviours.
With the support of the teachers, the environmental programme has continued to grow and is now embedded into the school curriculum as an multidisciplinary option. REGUA strongly encourages school visits to the reserve and in recent years has improved the facilities available.
In 2004 the Young Rangers programme was developed to build on the success of the school visits and to provide the opportunity for some students to become more actively involved in REGUA, as well as learning about environmental issues.
The Conservation Centre was developed following a donation by Robert Locke; one of REGUA’s founders and a trustee of the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest Trust (BART). The existence of the Visitor Centre is fundamental to the success of REGUA’s education programme.
REGUA’s reputation and standing in the local community owes much to the consistent education and community outreach work that has been carried out to date.