Revitalization of iconic Rio lagoon inspires new program to recover city’s mangroves

Rio de Janeiro, Jun 8 (EFE).- Located in the heart of this Brazilian metropolis’ most popular tourist area, the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon was synonymous for decades with wastewater pollution.

But thanks to a mangrove project that was launched in 1989 by biologist Mario Moscatelli and involved the planting of dozens of mangrove shoots – essential vegetation for protecting the lagoon’s shores – that body of water has been revitalized.

And now the Brazilian expert’s initiative has inspired a new project dubbed “Mangrove Guardians,” which was launched this week and aims to protect and maintain these ecosystems in eight other areas of Rio by enlisting the active participation of members of the community.

Those so-called “guardians” are community leaders who will work alongside municipal authorities and neighborhood associations to raise awareness among the population about the harmful impact of waste disposal in those ecosystems.

An environmental activist for more than 40 years, Moscatelli recalls that he was ridiculed for many years and told that his effort to clean up the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon was a pipe dream.

“Since I created the Lagoon Mangroves project, I’ve received threats for defying political and private interests, but I never believed the lagoon was unrecoverable. Today, I can say without a doubt that the lagoon is one of the city’s economic and environmental assets,” he told Efe.

With the project now in its 35th year and a new sanitation system in place that requires municipalities to improve their waste and sewage treatment, signs of the lagoon’s revitalization are now increasingly evident.

Sinval Andrade, superintendent director of Aguas do Rio, the entity responsible for the region’s sewage management, said improved inspection and recovery efforts at sewage treatment stations in the vicinity of the lagoon were decisive in the revitalization process.

“(Thanks to) joint action with environmental organizations and all the restructuring of the mangrove protection system, we managed to shield the lagoon from new aggressions and in a short time were (able to achieve) the renovation of its ecosystem,” he said.

The stench of pollution that once characterized the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon has disappeared, and now diverse species of wildlife frequent its mangrove-lined shores.

Herons, anhingas, water rails and capybaras are among the different animals visible to those visiting the lagoon.

Caroline Lima, a biologist at Rio de Janeiro’s Santa Ursula University, conducted a study on the direct impact of pollution on the region’s bird population.

Over the course of a year, she cataloged the different species and prepared a guide that details those that have arrived at the lagoon since its revitalization.

In addition to water rails and neotropic cormorants, Lima documented the presence of new residents such as spoonbills, blue herons and red-legged honeycreepers.

According to the expert, more than 50 species of birds can now be found at the lagoon.

“The increase in that population is directly related to the mangrove restoration area, where birds find food and refuge. And even species that don’t use that area as a home also use the lagoon as a feeding place due to its improved water quality,” she explained. EFE


Related Articles

Back to top button