By Alison McGowan, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – As one of the largest countries on the planet, Brazil has one of the most diverse eco-systems. However it suffers from large-scale deforestation in the Amazon region, as well as other environmental concerns that most other countries face. In Rio, the challenges of keeping up with garbage is a serious concern as landfills are overwhelmed, a situation exasperated by the millions of local and tourist Carnival revelers these past weeks.
In stark contrast to this, are the many smaller pousada owners who are taking an eco-conscious stand, running projects to sustain and develop local communities and encouraging more eco-friendly practices in their regions.
The Pantanal is just one of the world’s many wetlands in danger of being lost and the growth of the farming industry in the area is not helping.
Rita and Doio, owners of Hotel Fazenda Baia das Pedras decided they would make a conscious effort to keep the traditional way of living in the Pantanal, which is rooted in living in harmony with nature and in particular the wildlife.
They are key supporters of raising awareness of environmental issues and being a resource for photographers, researchers and visitors, wanting to document and explore the Pantanal through educational initiatives. In addition the farm runs two conservation initiatives of its own to protect the Tapir and the Giant Armadillo.
In Ilheus, Bahia, owner of Pousada Paraiso Verde, Teresa, has spent the last 30 years creating a living environment principally for people to come and experience a non-manufactured, eco-conscious lifestyle. When building her home on the beach she decided to use only natural materials like farm raised eucalyptus, glass and piacava to construct a traditional thatched roof. The pousada runs almost entirely on solar energy.
Design and decoration is a key element of creating a uniquely beautiful pousada, and doing so in a conscious way is something that owners Dani and Dave of Eco Rio Lodge in Barra do Jacuípe, Bahia, have paid particular attention to. In addition to adhering to environmentally friendly principles to run their pousada, they have taken specific steps to employ the skill of craftsmen within their community to create furnishings entirely made from recycled materials.
Pousada Aratinga Inn in Ilha Grande has several significant projects planned for 2011. Although Ilha Grande is in a region of very high annual rainfall, there are also extended dry periods throughout the year. At the moment local communities on the island use water from the major waterfall, but when there is no rain and the waterfalls weaken, water has to be rationed.
Owner Rennie plans to install three tanks into her pousada that will collect and store the rainwater that runs off the roofs and downpipes in the rainier months- and during the hot summer months use these water reserves for topping up water tanks in the guest buildings and watering the gardens.