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Living the Dream

Adventures in Brazils Atlantic Rainforest

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Save the Rainforest

One Step at a Time…

So far we’ve been frustrated at just how difficult it has been to make Pousada Serra Verdeas ecologically friendly and self sustaining as we wanted.

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The pace of life and attitudes here are very different to those in Europe which I grew up with and you have to learn to accept this if you don’t want to become crazy! With this in mind we decided to focus on what we have achieved rather than what we haven’t!

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So far we have:

  1. Started our library which will be built from tyres and bottles.
  2. Started an outdoor seating area with a green roof.
  3. Used pet bottles as roof tiles for a tool shed.
  4. Have extensive composting areas.
  5. Our waste water and ‘products’ are all internally managed and feed out clean water at the end of the process & our water comes from our own well.
  6. We support the books for all charity – Freguesia Do Livro and have a dedicated reading space for them.
  7. Several buildings and our house have been made from left over or discarded building materials.
  8. Pallets and bamboo have been used for fencing and furniture.
  9. We have the ‘Reserva Serra Verde’ – our own Primary Rainforest Reserve.
  10. We have started providing scholarship and assisted English Classes through our school – SPELL, Morretes.

So we’re not where we originally planned to be – but as always our plans are made of string….when they break we just tie a knot and carry on!

Why carrying your own fork and spoon helps solve the plastic crisis

Plastic Forks

We throw away billions of single use plastic utensils every year, and many of them end up in the sea and wider environment.

Plastic cutlery is everywhere, and most of it can be used only once. Billions of forks, knives, and spoons are thrown away each year and can take centuries to break down naturally, giving the plastic waste ample time to work its way into the environment.

The Ocean Conservancy lists cutlery as among the items “most deadly” to sea turtles, birds, and mammals, and alternatives have proven particularly difficult to come by, though not impossible.

Sea of Plastic

 

At first, plastic cutlery was considered reusable but as the post-war economy boomed, the frugal habits gave way to a ‘throw away culture.’

That marriage of culture and convenience led to companies such as Sodexo, a French firm that’s one of the world’s largest food-service providers, to turn to plastic. Today, the company buys a staggering 44 million disposable utensils per month in the U.S. alone. Globally, plastic cutlery is a $2.6 billion business.

But convenience has come at a cost. Like many plastic items, utensils often find their way into the environment.

 In 2016, France was the first country to ban plastic dinnerware. People around the world are experimenting with alternatives to plastic that range from potato starch and areca leaves to grain based edible cutlery.

Sales of such plastic substitutes remain relatively low, often hindered by higher costs and sometimes questionable environmental benefits.

A logical solution is to carry your own, but you’ll likely draw a few stares. For centuries, though, it would have been a faux pas to not travel with a set.

At Pousada Serra Verde we don’t use single use cutlery and dinnerware and have installed clay water filters in all our chalets to remove the need for single use plastic bottled water.

Plastic Utensils

PLANET OR PLASTIC?

Three things you can do to be part of the solution:

1. Carry reusable cutlery.

2. If you use disposable cutlery, make sure it’s made of a biodegradable or compostable material.

3. Choose to eat at establishments that don’t use plastic utensils.

Source: National Geographic

 

The Amazon – Trying to See the Wood for the Trees!

Amazon Fires 2019

Thousands of fires are ravaging the Amazon rainforest in Brazil – the most intense blazes for almost a decade. However, images purported to be of the fires – including some shared under the hashtag #PrayforAmazonas – have been shown to be decades old or not even in Brazil.

So what’s actually happening and how bad are the fires?

The National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) says its satellite data shows an 85% increase on the same period in 2018. The US space agency, Nasa, has on the other hand said that overall fire activity in the Amazon basin is slightly below average this year.

Amazon fires

The Amazon is home to about three million species of plants and animals, and one million indigenous people.The fires in the region are terrible and a tragedy for our planet but with so much misinformation and fake news it’s very difficult to get a true picture of just how much of an increase there has been.

What is clear is that deforestation is a huge problem which has depressingly broken new records of increase consistently for the last 30 years. Loggers and miners are long term offenders but the biggest culprits are undoubtedly the cattle farmers. A long established way of increasing grazing land has been to set illegal fires to clear the forest – once cleared it is no longer protected and can be used for cattle.

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Trying to get a clear balanced picture is very difficult; much of the world’s news comes from Brasilian NGO’s and the News Channel Globo – all of which are politically aligned against the current government which has cut the funding and subsidies granted to them by the previous regime. Bolsanaro is a self styled Trump prone to ill informed and populist rhetoric and remarks – such as the now infamous ‘poop ever other day’. His lack of diplomacy has alienated both the world’s press and many of the world’s leaders.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has suggested that non-governmental organisations had started fires in the rainforest, but admitted he had no evidence for this claim and this morning he tweeted ‘So, if you are wondering who is going to save the Amazon, here’s a very straightforward answer for you: it’s not the empty, hysterical and misleading rhetoric of the mainstream media, transnational bureaucrats and NGO’s, but the sovereign action of Brazil.’

My personal hope is that whilst the focus of the world is on the Amazon that we can take hold and actually address this very real, but depressingly old problem. The world is watching and the time to act is now, before the focus of the world moves onto a topic of fashionable outrage. If this opportunity is wasted I fear that my children will live in a world where the Amazon is reduced to a couple of small National Parks. Lets not forget that Brazil’s Atlantic Rainforest is now only 8% of the size it was 100 years ago.

Sources: BBC News, Rainforest Alliance, Washington Post

Wildlife at Serra Verde

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One of the things I love about living at Serra Verde is that you never quite know what you’re going to meet as you wander through the garden.

We’ve not been here a year yet and have met monkeys, iguana’s, an ocelot, snakes, a huge array of butterflies, toucans, woodpeckers and numerous other birds of all shapes, colours and sizes!FB_IMG_1540403190949

The Atlantic Rainforest has incredible biodiversity and we feel blessed to be able to live here. Once Pousada Serra Verde opens in December we look forward to sharing this wonderful place with you!

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Real Ale in the Rainforest!

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ThePorto de Cima Brewing  Company is to be found in the shadow of the Marumbi mountains on the banks of the Rio Nhundiaquara.

In this tranquil setting Curt uses the flavours and aromas of the Floresta Atlantica to create some truly memorable beers.

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With more than 17 labels there is a beer for all tastes – my new personal favourite being ‘Joao De Barro’, which is an English style bitter ale! The brewery terrace looks out over a stunning mountain vista and is a truly special place to enjoy a beer.

The brewery and beer garden are open Friday – Sundays, 2pm -6pm and are well worth a visit.

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The 3 F’s – Fossa’s, Frustration & Flowers!

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It’s been a hard couple of months at Serra Verde. Of all the problems we expected to have; I never dreamt that a hole that you put what the locals call ‘coco’ into would cause us so much headache! We need 3 and by all accounts have suffered from doing things correctly and so have been at the mercy of the local council, architects, engineers and not to mention the elements! We have even found an underground river flowing through one of our regulation 2 metre deep holes!

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The beaurocracy surrounding the septic tanks has also rather frustratingly meant we’ve had to build something the size of a nuclear bunker in concrete rather than the car tyre and banana tree eco option we had planned.

We’ve finally got one signed off, connected and working and hope the others will now be not far behind!

We’ve been told that we could drink the water at the end of the process – I’m all for recycling, but that’s a step too far!!! I’ll leave that for the orchids which are now starting to bloom.

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Headless Horseman at Serra Verde!

Headless Horseman

Sometimes you start to forget that you’re living in the rainforest as the routines of daily life start to take over and that’s when you get a reminder…

Every morning at around 5am we hear something run past the house – we thought iguana or something similar…

Speaking to a local about this we were told not to turn the lights on and under no circumstances were we to disturb it; because it was an evil spirit passing through Serra Verde!!!

It appears that the headless horseman it seems is dead and well in Morretes!!!

Serra Verde

Serra Do Mar

Marumbi Mountains

The stunning Serra Do Mar (mountains of the sea) range stretches from the state of Espirito Santo above Morretes down to beautiful Santa Catarina beneath us. This coastal mountain range sits in the middle of the Atlantic Rainforest.

The Marumbi State Park was founded in 1990 and covers over 370 hectares, it’s aim being to preserve this endangered habitat. The Pico Marumbi looms as a symbolic sentinel for the town of Morretes below it. The 19th-century local poet Frederico Lange de Morretes was so inspired by the mountain’s beauty that after his death he was buried upright to face the mountain.413

The Serra Do Mar is home for countless species of endangered animals, such as sloths, ocelots and even puma’s. These mountain  slopes give birth to numerous streams which cascade down the mountainside and open out into tranquil rivers such as the Rio Marumbi which flows through Serra Verde. The diverse Floresta Atlantica spreads from the banks of such rivers and opens out into a land of many natural resources: sugarcane, bananas, citrus fruits, coffee and cacao plants, jackfruit trees, and a wide variety of tropical fruits and flowers.

It is here that you will find the Serra Verde Project. This ambitious scheme plans to create a rural eco-lodge and education centre in the foothills of the Picos do Marumbi. Our aim is to become self sufficient in energy production and organic food by 2025 as well as playing an active part in the local community.

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Friends of Serra Verde

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The Floresta Atlântica is Brazil’s ‘other’ rainforest; however it is one of the most important eco-regions in the world and a biodiversity hotspot. Sadly it is one of the most threatened habitats on the planet with only around 8.5% of the original forest remaining. What is left is becoming increasingly fragmented and deforested.

The Reserva Serra Verde was created in 2010 and is a 4,200sqm area of pristine, rare Atlantic Rainforest.

The Friends of Serra Verde is a charitable trust established to help preserve this endangered environment through preservation, education and replanting.

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As a friend of Serra Verde you will help us achieve our aims:

■ To protect the existing rainforest.

■ To increase the size of the reserve by buying up neighbouring areas of rainforest.

■ To make a small part of the reserve accessible to wheelchair users and local children.

■ To engage the local community in the importance of preserving the local habitat

The Pousada Serra Verde is committed to this project and more information can be found at http://www.serra-verde.com

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