How I Paved A Hiking Trail In The Forests Of Brazil

A life 2022

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How I Paved A Hiking Trail In The Forests Of Brazil
How I Paved A Hiking Trail In The Forests Of Brazil

Video: How I Paved A Hiking Trail In The Forests Of Brazil

Video: Lake Vesuvius Backpack Trail - Wayne National Forest - Ohio Hiking 2022, November

Traveling to Brazil was a childhood dream of mine that came true. After the Camino de Santiago in April 2016, a plane from Madrid rushed me to hot Sao Paulo. A week later, a friend of mine introduced me to the WWF project coordinator in Brazil. I went through an interview and in May 2016 began working as a WWF volunteer on a project to create a pathway for the Atlantic Forest. The path connects the four Brazilian states with a hiking trail: Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Parana and Santa Catarina.


The project of the Way has existed for about four years, but all these years the work was carried out mainly in minds and on paper: a strategy was developed, materials were published in magazines. WWF was setting the stage. I entered the project at the stage when the idea began to be implemented. There was a lot of work: I traveled and walked in all four states, got acquainted with the leaders of national parks, participated in green meetings, sawed trees and dug the ground. The most active movements to create the Path take place from two opposite sides of the path: in Rio de Janeiro and Florianopolis. I will tell you more about work in these two cities.

Florianopolis and Rio de Janeiro. Two Brazilian oases in the heart of urban development. Kilometer-long beaches, the sun that strokes the bronze shoulders of residents with rays, carefree surfers, giant trees, monkeys and hummingbirds, Christ stretched out his stone arms in different directions, embracing lagoons, islands, yachts, businessmen, fishermen and homeless people. Contrast cities. They can be forgiven for noise, hustle and bustle, high prices, because they are children of the forest and the ocean, and everything in the world can be forgiven for the forest and the ocean. Here they speak Portuguese, dance in the streets and laugh a lot. If you see a forest, then the trees run straight into the sky, if it starts raining, then you get wet in a second. Here you automatically become closer to nature. The Tijuca National Parks in Rio and Tabuleiro in Florianopolis contribute to this: it is not far from the business centers, and you are already in the center of the forest, where you can not hear cars and the sky peeps through thickets of ancient trees. There are possums and wild dogs, tapirs and anacondas, capybaras and anteaters.

Nature then takes its own, expanding in breadth, then gives up positions, succumbing to excavators and axes. Local ecologists cherish the remaining hectares of the Atlantic forest like the apple of their eye, which cannot be said about politicians. Brazil's minister of ecology is popularly nicknamed the "chainsaw" because the area of ​​the Atlantic forest and the Amazonian forests declined sharply during her reign. Ordinary people also add fuel to the fire by unauthorized occupation of forest lands and unauthorized construction work. But despite all the damage, the Atlantic forest lives and pleases with beauty and diversity.

There are two ways to preserve forests. The first is to “preserve” them by organizing something like a nature reserve. The second way, on the contrary, opens up the forest for people

There are two opposite ways to preserve forests. The first one is to literally “conserve” the forest and exclude any activity in the forest area by legislatively organizing something like a nature reserve. The second method, on the contrary, opens the forest for people: residents are offered to participate in volunteer work, schools conduct ecology and biology lessons at forest stations. The first method was popular in the last century, the second has become popular in our time. Being active in the forest has a positive effect on both people and the forest. People feel a connection with nature, they become interested in what is happening around them. It is becoming more difficult for politicians and business representatives to cut down the forest: residents are aware of the state of the ecosphere, and this cannot be done on the quiet.

Many countries have succeeded in adopting the second approach, for example the United States and Australia: national parks here are open to residents and tourists and are very popular. Brazil is catching up so far: beaches are popular with locals, but wildlife is not. Environmentalists in Brazil, led by WWF, decided to change the situation, open the parks to the maximum and create one long walking route like the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Ridge route.

The Atlantic Forest path was first created on paper: information about existing paths was collected, using GPS, a model of the route was built on the map. Then this model was sent to the heads of national parks - they either clarified the project, or made drastic changes if the "paper" trail passed through impassable thickets or mountain peaks. After that, a series of discussions began: in Rio and Florianopolis, ecologists, workers of national parks and non-profit organizations in the field of the ecosphere, rock climbers, biologists, geologists, geographers, tourist guides, university students discussed the project of the Path. At the same time, negotiations were held with national parks, through which the trail passes. It was necessary to come to an agreement with all the leaders: some of them believe that the forests need to be "preserved" and it is not healthy to have such a "preservative" in the middle of the trail. Sometimes it seemed to me that the matter would not go further than talking, the schedule of meetings and assemblies dazzled in my eyes - but finally we switched from paperwork to construction on the ground.


In Rio de Janeiro, the trails are already relatively ready because several generations of national park leaders have taken the second approach to forest conservation. In Rio, the Transcarioka trail ("Through Rio") has been opened with a length of about 200 kilometers. The Transcarioca is the dream project of Pedro Menezes, the past head of the Tijuca National Park in Rio de Janeiro. He was still very young when he conceived this path. Now the residents of Rio use it with might and main: athletes run along forest paths, viewers come to viewpoints to take selfies against the backdrop of the ocean and islands, families walk along the trail on weekends, economists and dentists help equip the trail as volunteers.

In Rio de Janeiro, you don't have to create a route from scratch, so my job was mainly to mark the trail. With paint, we put prints of the Transkarioka logo in the shape of a tourist boot with the figure of Christ on trees and stones, chopped down grass and vines, chopped down dead trees. On the way, we met a thousand-year-old jubachikaba tree, hollow inside, and a giant red anthill that was taller than me. We ate forest fruits, which you will not find in supermarket windows, shouted with monkeys and whistled with birds, drank water from streams and swam in waterfalls, we were bitten by wild wasps and mosquitoes. In three days we managed to mark fourteen kilometers of the trail in both directions.

After successfully working in Rio, I went to Florianopolis. It is located on an island 2500 kilometers south of Rio de Janeiro. This is one of the most beautiful cities in Brazil, and in summer there is no end to tourists from the Americas. Wildlife and civilization exist in harmony: for example, alligators and herons live in the river next to a large shopping center, blue mountains rise above road junctions, in which clouds get stuck, dolphins and turtles can be easily seen on the beaches. Surfers sometimes rescue penguins, who, due to shrinking glaciers, are lost in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and swim to Brazil, hungry, tired and half dead. On the rocks of the nudist beach, there are ancient drawings of Indians, the meaning of which is still being unraveled.

We raised big stones in the mountains

and logs, dug the ground and chopped down dead trees, using them as building material for steps

Right in the middle of the island there are two freshwater lagoons connected by small natural channels to the ocean.Hereditary fishermen live on the shores of the lagoons. If a fisherman has a son, he plants a tree with special wood. When the son turns eighteen, the whole fishing village cuts this tree down and makes the first boat out of it for the young fisherman. In general, not a city, but some kind of fairy tale.

The Atlantic Forest Path crosses Florianópolis from north to south. There are many paths that are not connected to each other. In addition, many routes are subject to severe erosion due to the mountainous terrain and soft ground. We connected the trails in one way and stopped erosion processes. To do this, we used a drainage system to change the waterways on the routes, forcing rainwater to go into the forest without accumulating on the way. We also made stone and wooden steps to make it easier for travelers to walk - steps also slow down the flow of water, which reduces the likelihood of erosion.

The work in Florianopolis was physically much more difficult. We lifted large stones and logs into the mountains, dug the ground and chopped down dead trees, using them as building material for steps. But the hard physical labor paid off handsomely when the travelers walking along the trails told us words of gratitude, when we met the sunset on the top of the hill overlooking one of the lagoons and the ocean, when after three days of heavy rain we saw that the drains were working perfectly and the trail is no longer destroyed.


The Atlantic Forest Path is a dream project, very large-scale and ambitious. I worked on it for four months, but I don’t presume to predict when the first traveler will pass through all four states. In Rio and Florianopolis, trekking routes are ready for hikers, but work in the other two states, São Paulo and Parana, and the creation of a trail away from cities, in an area free of civilization, are on the agenda. Similar trails in the States have been created for half a century. The creator of the Pacific Ridge route died before it was open to long-distance travelers. But the dream project is good because there is no room for doubts and sadness in it. This is too big a target for the shooter to miss.

Working with WWF on the Atlantic Forest Path has given me a lot. There was an understanding of how to work on really big projects and how to interact as a team. It's great to feel involved in creating something huge and beautiful. Plus, I started talking in Portuguese, met people who are very careful about nature and believe in the work they do. It's incredibly inspiring. Each time the forest presented me with encounters with wild animals, the noise of growing bamboo and the wind of freedom.

The long-term nature of this project has its plus: you can participate in it again and again - and in a year or two there will still be something to work on. I'm going to go back to creating the Atlantic Forest path, and maybe more than once. At least I take a return ticket to Brazil.

Photos: Xico Putini -, superbbs -, brizardh -, sattriani -

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