The Long Run’s Brazil Retreat Paves the Way for a Mata Atlantica Green Belt
The Long Run’s regional meeting in Brazil carved out a way for members, other lodges, corporations, and not-for-profits to work collaboratively to protect Brazil’s fragile and increasingly under threat Mata Atlantica.
The Long Run has a unique global perspective when it comes to conservation-led tourism operations, but for practical implementation and progress, having a strong regional presence is essential. To support a more regional approach earlier this month, The Long Run held a retreat in Brazil for a select group of conservationists, members, and stakeholders at GER® member Caiman Ecological Refuge.
Hosted by Roberto Klabin, owner of GER® Caiman Ecological Refuge, and Thais Corral, owner of GER® Sinal do Vale, the three days demonstrated The Long Run’s role as a forum for honest discussions around regional conservation projects. Roberto comments, “We specifically asked participants to present their projects and highlight challenges so that sharing experiences could lead to constructive discussion.”
Delphine King, Director of The Long Run, was delighted to see the group work through some of the challenges presented together, “This is exactly what The Long Run is all about. Not only did we spend three days better understanding conservation issues in The Pantanal, but we also heard from a varied group of participants united by their motivation to promote work relating to the 4Cs.” Delphine is keen to bring selected non-members on board at regional meetings to ensure the organisation remains inclusive and impact-driven. Thais recognises the value of this strategy, “This was a great way for us to consider other business models beyond tourism to support conservation further.”
Nicholas and Raquel Locke presented REGUA’s (environmental not-for-profit) mission to conserve the remnants of Mata Atlantica and SOS Pantanal added weight to Roberto’s presentation about the economic value of The Pantanal. Other tourism perspectives included: Nathaniel Grew, Director of Hacienda Ario in Costa Rica, discussed the challenges of family-ownership; Rufino Escasany, Director of Aspiring Citizens Cleantech and part-owner of a family ranch in Argentina, provided a case study for regenerative cattle farming; Nadja Hofmann explained the ownership model and vision at Reserva di Ibitipoca. Pedro Friedrich, President of Tonka S.A., urged everyone to forge ahead and continue taking all opportunities available to expand land under conservation. His wife, Betina, founder of Habitad Humanitas described her vision of maintaining or restoring harmony between nature by supporting towns become sustainable, while Aleka Vial shared Fundacion Hypatia’s vision for spiritual and community regeneration. Representatives from companies Klabin and Suzano, Brazil’s largest papermakers, expressed their will to support conservation initiatives.
The meeting concluded with some practical initiative to take forward, including the creation of a green corridor to protect the Mata Atlantic, which is one of the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems but is under threat from urban sprawl. The Long Run will seek to support development of the corridor by leveraging the work of its members or other conservation hubs.
Delphine continues, “There’s a real urgency to spread the word about the economic benefits of conservation and promote Roberto’s call for action across the region. Brazil is at a crucial crossroads politically and economically — the more people that understand the economic implication of environmental mismanagement, the better.”
The retreat also allowed participants to get up-to-speed with Caiman’s fast-moving conservation initiatives. Caiman Ecological Refuge is part of a 130,000-acre ‘Pantaneiro’ (cowboy) cattle ranch, offering accommodation, activities and tours in the heart of Brazil’s Pantanal region — one of the world’s most important wetlands. The first ecotourism operation in the Southern Pantanal of Mato Grosso do Sul, Caiman is named after one of the many species found on the refuge — the caiman crocodile — and is also home to jaguars, blue-fronted parrots, hyacinth macaws, giant anteaters and howler monkeys. By working with the not-for-profit jaguar habituation project, Onçafari, Caiman has exponentially increased both earnings for local people and numbers of jaguars.