Friday, August 04, 2006

Who's On Holiday?

Just in case anyone might get the impression that I am just lying in a hammock by the beach, I should point out that I am currently significantly further inland, in the state of Minas Gerais. I am at the Fazenda Iracambi, a working farm and research centre dedicated to conservation of the Atlantic Rainforest, known here in Brazil as the Mata Atlantica ( The Mata has been reduced to about 7% of its original extent, making it severely more endangered than the forests of the Amazon. This depletion continues with forest being cleared principally for agricultural use.

Iracambi seeks to reverse this process, searching for means of preserving the existing forest, and building new corridors connecting isolated patches of forest to help preserve the biodiversity of this region. The intention is to find ways in which local people can find it more beneficial to preserve the forest than to cut it down. I am here to learn, but am also participating in the creation of a land use map to enable more accurate measurement of the state of the remaining forest.

Where forest exists, the area can be strikingly beautiful, at least when it stops raining. The terrain is hilly and the cleared land is mostly used for pasture or for growing crops such as coffee or sugar cane. It is winter at the moment, something I didn't take too seriously at first as I struggled up hills in the heat to measure GPS reference points. However the last few days have brought rain and a significant drop in the daytime temperature - now I believe it.

But don't worry, South of Watford is intending to find that hammock somewhere near Rio de Janeiro for a few days before returning to Spain - hopefully I won't need an umbrella to go with it.

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