Welcome to the jungle

Finally we are in the Mata Atlantica and the work starts.  I can’t imagine better work.

We took the journey from Sao Paulo to Mogi das Cruzes, Biritiba Mirim in Paulo’s car, along the  river through the suburbs, favelas and along the road shared by loggers.  As we got close to the farm the road became more and more of a dirt track and we entered the farm, in the Brazilian forest called the Mata Atlantica that once covered most of Brazil, they say there is only 7% left, which is very close to the story of our forests in the UK.  This is a cloud forest and close to the sea, as the wind comes from the sea it turns to mist, which in turn turns to rain as it hits the city of Sao Paulo.  This forest is new, only 30 years old, regrown from when it was originally cut down for charcoal for the Sao Paulo’s industries. This forest tells the story of Sao Paulo’s massive development.
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The farm is stunning, owned by Marcelo’s good friend and his family.  Set in amongst the trees and landscaped with waterfalls, lakes, flowers, herbs.  Ducks, geese and heron surround us.  Right now the volume of sounds from the forest are intense and so are the mosquitos, buzzing around the computer screen.

Today we walked with the sensor kit up to the mountain top, the frog rock, from where on a clear day you can see the Atlantic ocean to one side and Sao Paulo to the other.  Today the mist had come down.  From the top you can see Renato’s neighbours Euclyptus farm.  This is destroying the indigenous forest with its aggresive growth.  Renato tries to manage the forest by cutting the Euclyptus down which also provides them with firewood and protects the new growth of the forest.  Beyond Frog Rock remains some old forest but so little is left.

I am battling with my city girl fears of the unknown in the forest and in particular my phobia of snakes which they all find very amusing.

We are being treated like kings here with the most amazing food, swimming in the man made waterfall and trying to absorb where we are, sensing the forest through our equipment but also trying to think how the forest can be interpreted, visualised and eventually connected to our own Sherwood Forest. Renato’s family are wonderful and we having very good conversations about the ecology of Brazil, the guerilla opportunities of new technologies being used to connect people and the reality of the expedition.

Tomorrow we will try and find a place to put the sensor kit and capture some static data to compare to data collected by the Twisty oak tree in Sherwood.

The Paralelo workshop has helped us to think beyond the forest that we see, but I don’t think I will be able to fully absorb this first step until I return home.

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