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Living the Dream

Adventures in Brazils Atlantic Rainforest

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Save the Rainforest

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

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Finally Open!!!!

It’s been a long year with it’s fair share of ups and downs but on 28th December Pousada Serra Verde opened!

We have 2 family chalets, an accessible chalet & a hostel which sleeps groups of upto 7. 

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The pool and Fairy Trail have been real hits and we have been delighted that our guests seem to love Serra Verde as much as we do!

IMG-20181226-WA0000.jpgThere’s no time to rest though with our 2019 projects including 2 glamping pitches and the construction of a library from tyres and bottles with a green roof! #livingthedream #pousadaserraverde

One Year On…

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We’ve now been in Brasil for a year. As was to be expected it has been a challenging but rewarding time. We arrived to find our house half eaten by cupim, the roof leaking badly, the water tower about to collapse, much of the land badly overgrown and then faced endless beaurocracy whilst trying to sort things out.

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However we have risen to all the challenges thrown at us and amongst other things built 5 chalets, 2 fossa’s, a water tower, a swimming pool, endless walls and fences, re-roofed the house, replaced cupim riddled house walls and windows, built paths, opened an English school, become part of the community and rescued Luna (our dog).

 

We’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot of new skills including: how to manage the forest, how to handle snakes, endless building skills, gambiarra, how to open an English school, the children have both become fluent in Portuguese, how  not to get too frustrated with how long it takes to get anything done, how to live with frequent and long power cuts and how  to really enjoy a much simpler and more basic lifestyle.

Our English school in Morretes opened this week and our Pousada – Pousada Serra Verde   

will be opening at the end of this month.

So we are pleased with our progress thus far and are really looking forward to year 2!!!

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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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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Work is Underway!

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It’s been a busy couple of months since we arrived at Serra Verde. We’ve worked hard to get the house watertight, which involved removing, cleaning and relaying thousands of roof tiles (we also got caught in a storm with no roof which meant the house and everyhing in it got soaked!). We’ve also had to replace a whole wall of the house that had been eaten by cupim (a small ant like insect that loves to feast on wood) and build a new water tower as the old one was unsafe!

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Despite these set backs and lots of hard work life is good. We’re finding that a simpler more basic existence is rewarding – limited internet, no branded retail/fast food chains within 50km and having to adjust your day to fit round natures timetable all help us to feel healthier an happier!

Work is now underway on turning Serra Verde into a Pousada….

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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Earthships – Sustainable Living

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So far we have looked at building and powering an Earthship. In our final Earthship post we are going to look at food production and waste management.

Greywater (taken from the shower, sinks and washing machine) is used to feed plants grown inside the Earthship. Plants are grown in the sunny part of the house and are fed on the greywater. The plants roots naturally filter the water, their leaves clean the air and you can eat the end product – what’s not to like!

In most houses clean drinking water is used to flush the toilet. It then becomes ‘blackwater’ or sewage which is drained away and treated to be made safe. Usable greywater is mixed with the blackwater which further increases the amount of water that requires cleaning four times!

Earthships make use of both greywater and blackwater and are designed to use the same water four times!

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We are looking forward to using the Earthship techniques and principles when we start building at Serra Verde later this year!

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