In his third blogpost about Reserva Ecológica de Guapiaçu (REGUA) in Brazil, former World Land Trust (WLT) staff member Scott Guiver recalls the day a group of schoolchildren visited the reserve and reflects on the effect REGUA’s ‘living classroom’ will have on the next generation of Brazilians.
As the sun rose higher, the rays reached down and warmed the still morning air. Two large coaches with heavily tinted windows approached us slowly down the dusty, tree-lined track.
The silence broke as the doors opened and a babble of excited voices escaped. The children disembarked and they flooded the courtyard with a sea of smiles, giggles and chatter, their eyes full of wonder as they took in the surroundings.
Every year, a group of kids from the Centro Educacional Miraflores school in Rio de Janeiro visits REGUA to learn about conservation and wildlife in their home country. It is important to note they are city kids, and for most of them this is the first time they’ve experienced somewhere as wild as this. So, after a much needed breakfast and brief rundown of the day’s activities, it was time to explore.
The line of children snaked along the path beside the wetlands. Audible gasps of wonderment and awe marked each sighting of Capybaras, Broad-snouted Caimans and a plethora of birds. Carlos, the educator at REGUA, effortlessly commanded the attention of the children, engaging them with amazing facts and stories of the Atlantic Forest.
In the afternoon we headed to the plant nursery where Nicholas Locke (President of REGUA) and the nursery staff explained the processes of reforestation. After planting seeds and potting seedlings, we all headed to an area of ongoing reforestation to plant some saplings and actually create a new patch of forest!
The care and effort that the children displayed for each of the saplings that they planted was quite beautiful to behold. Watching them, I had more hope for the future as I knew this experience would last a long time in the memory of these children and the adults they would become. Several of the children even told me that they wanted to bring their families to REGUA to plant more trees and see the wildlife. Just one day had planted seeds of inspiration into the minds of these young Brazilians.
It is not just primary school children who have benefitted from REGUA’s living classroom. Every year several groups of university students and academics, from various disciplines, utilise the facilities and abundance of flora and fauna at this exquisite site. The investment of providing access to a living classroom is undoubtedly an invaluable tool, not only to raise awareness but to inspire the next generation of conservationists.
Scott volunteered as a Bird Guide at REGUA for a month, and has already written two blogposts on the WLT website about his experiences:
WLT has supported various land purchases to extend REGUA through special appeals and the Action Fund in the past, and currently supports reforestation and long-term protection in the reserve through the Plant a Tree and Keepers of the Wild programmes.