Project recovers the environment of University City in Rio
An environmental recovery project is changing the landscape of the #UniversityCity, in #Rio's Northern Zone. Dozens of birds fly over the area every day for seeds and insects. They are part of a group of 199 species of birds already identified on the campus of the #FederalUniversity of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), such as great kiskadees, southern crested caracaras, owls, hawks, rooks, herons, parrots, parakeets, woodpeckers, ruby crowned tanager, tangaras, rufous bellied thrush, amongst others.
The changes that occurred in the nature of the islands that make up the University City have occurred over the last two decades and began with the development of an environmental recovery plan. ‘The number of species registered at Fundão is equivalent to that of the Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro,’ said Alfredo Heleno de Oliveira, an environmental scientist who monitors bird species on campus. The count has been carried out since 1990 and includes wandering animals, seasonal visitors and residents, such as Harris's hawk, a raptor regularly observed on campus.
‘In a single day, I registered 90 species traveling through the Catalão Island, Bom Jesus Island and the Technological Park. The campus also hosts many migratory birds, such as the Tyrannidae, which goes after warmer regions during the harsh winter of the Southern hemisphere,’ said Alfredo, adding that today he considers 199 a conservative number since the extensive area of the campus allows the appearance of new species over the years.
Landscape artist Beatriz Emilião Araújo emphasises that structuring the University Garden in 1989 was an important step in the process of systematically recovering the environment of the University City. ‘UFRJ started to produce seedlings at the site in order to maintain the green areas of the campus. The planting of native trees of the Atlantic Forest, such as golden trumpet tree, brazilwood, courbaril, inga, among others, provides food for the fauna that has settled on the island over the years. The preservation work was intensified in 1996, with the ‘creation' of UFRJ's Atlantic Forest Park, also known as Catalão Park,’ he explained.
The investment made in the garden in 2004 was essential to re-vegetate the University City. Today, the result is noticeable not only by the exuberance of the trees and ornamental plants but also by the quantity and diversity of animal species derived from this work.
‘Although little known to most of its visitors, the University City is very rich in biodiversity. The area – originally part of the Atlantic Forest, brings together three great features of this environment: forests, sandbanks (restingas), and mangroves,’ said Marco Aurélio Louzada, biologist at the Federal Institute of Rio de Janeiro (IFRJ) and a member of the first plan structuring committee, which could contribute to the recovery and protection of over 400 plant species already catalogued at the University City.
Pictures courtesy: Aída M Pereira, Érica T Morai and Alfredo H de Oliveira.