The Grand Araucaria Forest (RPPN Grande Floresta das Araucarias)
We are a RPPN (Private Reserve of the Natural Heritage). According to the system of conservation unit category, Law nº 9.085/2000 SNUC, a RPPN is:
Article 21 – The Private Reserve of the Natural Heritage is a private area established in perpetuity to preserve biodiversity.
Following the regulations of an RPPN, permitted activities include only:
I – Scientific Research;
II – Visitation – Tourism (educational and recreational).
The Grand Araucaria Forest RPPN emerged organically as a consequence of the need to preserve an old growth forest, rare lands filled with pristine beauty, containing an abundance of springs, rivers and streams, untouched and preserved in their natural form until today. Two factors allowed for the preservation of this Grand Forest; the rough terrain surroundings, and the fact that it has belonged to the same family for more than a hundred years.
“There for, as people and families take care of their future, as so proprieties, forests and water resources need and deserve the care that will assure its continuity and state of conservation, so that society and nature may co-habit in harmony.” (Manoel Lauro Volkmer de Castilho)
The Ranch – Fazendas Reunidas Campo Novo
The ranch covers 7,500 hectares, of which 4,000 ha have been made into a RPPN, another 1,500 ha constitute the Legal Reserve, plus 1,000 ha of permanent preservation area, and 1,000 ha used in farming activities and reforestation areas, in compliance with ecological and environmental standards for sustainability, compatible with the preservation of nature.
The property is located at the highest point of the Santa Catarina State, on the top portion of the largest sweet water aquifer in the world, the Guarani Aquifer. For this matter the most significant resource of the area are its water sources that overflow abundantly, making the entire region a strategic water producer, as such provider of valuable environmental and ecosystemic services within and beyond its borders.
The area corresponding to the farm was first sighted by Hercílio Pedro da Luz (Hercílio Luz), an engineer who at the time was newly graduated from an university in Belgium, and was hired by the State of Santa Catarina to map its boundaries, and study its relief/(landscape) to determine ways for roads and railways to connect the interior to the ocean. During this survey he saw the area while standing in the high sierras that surround the ranch, and allured by its beauty, decided to purchase the land.
The region is defined by geographical features and great water divides, cliffs, imposing rock walls, steep slopes, rivers, all of which serve as natural boundaries that the terrain itself establishes. Perennial landmarks defined by geological eras form natural walls around the entire property.
Considering the exceptionality of what they had in hand, the descendants of Hercílio Luz, current owners sought opinions from renowned professionals, professors Doctor Aziz Ab'Saber (geographer), and later Luiz Fernando Scheibe (geologist) and Ademir Reis (botanist), among others, in order to obtain the knowledge needed to preserve the lands. Little by little the true picture of this magic valley unfolded. Their studies revealed that the area was truly unic, highly endemic, an ecotone, with relict traits, deserving utmost protection. Quoting the words of Prof. Doctor Aziz Ab'Saber in one of his books:
“In the symbolic language used in the biogeographical sciences, certain terms are applied to designate “ islands" of noticeably anomalous vegetation identified in corridors of large morphoclimatic and lithogeographical domains. Among these conceptual expressions, four of the most common are: relics, enclaves, strongholds and refuges.”
“The simplest of these terms is certainly the expression “relict”, used to designate any plant species found in a specific location encircled by many stretches of another ecosystem.”
“The strength of this expression is in its capacity to evoke the idea of possible ecological corridors, which would have existed in some indefinite time, and the arrival of species in the places where they are found today” (Aziz Ab'Saber - Ecological Writings, Lazuli Editora, 2006)
This natural museum, located in the folds/ridges of the Sierra Geral is refuge to numerous species of fauna and flora. With its designation as an RPPN conservation area, preservation was permanently established. In the words of Dr. Ana Maria Juliano, author of the first book about RPPN in Brazil:
“The elevation of a property to the category of conservation by voluntary act of the owner sets up not only a conscious conservation of its macro wellbeing, but also an attitude of care and concern for the collectivity."
“In a RPPN, one sees the socio-environmental function of a property fully configured, not by imposition of public power or legal order, but by a spontaneous act of the individual who establishes it.” (Ana Maria Juliano - RPPN: A New Concept of Property, Oikos Editora, 2011)
It was during a meeting of RPPNs owners that the current leaders of the RPPN GFA met Dr. Ana Maria Juliano, then president of the Confederation of RPPNs in Brazil, and a friendship began. She believed in the project and brought the light of her wisdom and vast environmental experience, joined forces in this quest to achieve a state of protection and purpose for the reserve. In her own words:
“To enter the RPPN Grand Aracuaria Forest is to share a space untouched and preserved over time. Setting foot in places not reached by the hand of man, which reminds one of ancient eras, has the power to enthrall the eyes and the soul.”
The GFA was consecrated to Archangel Michael on September 29, 2011, the day of its creation as an RPPN and its publication in the Official Gazette of the Union. The Araucaria Grand Forest holds a sacred mission to protect the Garden of Eden, the Kingdom of God and all its creatures.
The predominant vegetation of the reserve is the mixed Ombrophilous Forest (a subtropical variety of the Atlantic Forest, where a conifer is the pioneers and main exponents), it is also home to hidden pockets of nebular/dwarf forest in its valleys, and rupicular vegetation on slopes throughout the reserve, amidst countless springs and water sources.
The Researcher's House
Inaugurated in 2013, the Researcher's House hosts studies about the reserve through partnerships with educational and academic institutions. The house serves as accommodation for groups of students, professors and researchers during their field work. The project has since contributed to expand knowledge about the Grand Araucaria Forest reservation, and has helped to guide its protection.
The Ecological Sanctuary
The Ecological Sanctuary, comprising the reserve's native areas and the farm infrastructure, is a space dedicated to the dissemination of physical and ideological seeds through events and projects focused on environmental sustainability, studies of deep ecology, conservation of present resources, and human development.
The sanctuary infra-structure includes, group accommodations, private lodging houses, cafeteria and event auditorium, as well as several ecological trails, rivers, waterfalls and much peace and quiet.
Here we are! Steadfast in the certainty that everyone who comes to this sanctuary touches its truth and essence.
“Let the omnisciente Christ consciousness come to us a second time and be born in you. Even at it was manifested in the consciousnes of Jesus”.Metafisical Meditations, Paramahansa Yogananda.