Notes From The Field: Guarda Do Embaú, Brazil: WSR Visit Exceeds All Expectations

Since Guarda Do Embaú was selected as the 9th World Surfing Reserve in November 2016, STW has been working with members of the Guarda community to take the initial steps required of WSR sites. During this time we have grown familiar with the qualities and characteristics of Guarda through conversations, research, and too many hours viewing online surf videos.  The consensus among STW staff before our recent trip down was that it appeared on our screens as a veritable coastal paradise with emerald green waves peeling left down a rocky point.

However, STW Director of Programs, Nick Mucha, recently returned from his first site visit to Guarda and offered; “Nothing could have prepared me for how magical of a place Guarda is. Within an hour of being there I had already fallen hard and each new day reinforced that feeling. The trip left me deeply inspired and excited for the work that lies ahead. The surreal beauty of the area, the welcoming spirit of the community, the dedication of the Local Stewardship Council, and the commitment at-large to use the WSR to protect their coastal resources – this is an incredibly special place and the Vision Council definitely made the right decision by bringing Guarda into the WSR network.”

The purpose of the trip was to work with the Local Stewardship Council to develop their Stewardship Plan thereby defining the core focus of the WSR, strengthen partnerships with stakeholder groups, and garner greater interest in the WSR by media and government authorities. It was a highly productive trip best summarized through a few photos:

Thank you Plinio Bordin, for the amazing photographs!

1. Stewardship Planning

The Local Stewardship Council worked hard with Nick and our partner Renata Pereira from Conservation International Brazil to assess their key coastal issues and formulate strategies to safeguard their coastal resources. This Stewardship Planning process is very intensive and requires many long hours from the community leaders to formulate the blueprint for how the WSR will achieve lasting conservation outcomes.

In the end, they identified the preservation of the Rio Madre River as their core focus and outlined strategies to maintain water quality and regulate water use to this critical natural resource that impacts the wave, local economy, and cultural identity.

2. The Place

The sheer beauty of Guarda can only be fully appreciated in person. The interplay of river, sand, mountains, and waves make for gorgeous scenery around every corner.

3. Community Meetings

The Local Stewardship Council spent much effort to ensure that Nick met with key stakeholders, government authorities, and community groups. Through these meetings Nick was able to see firsthand the broad support and enthusiasm for the WSR program and the many inspiring groups that make the Guarda community so special.  

4. Lunch to Remember

One of the highlights was the generous invitation from the local fishing association to join them for a freshly caught ‘tainha’ lunch and cold beers. The artisanal fishermen in Guarda go back many generations and are deeply tied to the Guarda cultural identity. It was a treat to step into their house and share in their rich bounty. This was a great example of the WSR helping to strengthen ties between the surfing and fishing communities. Muito obrigado!

5. Farewell Reception

The local restaurant Big Bamboo hosted a touching reception on the last night of the visit and it was a great way to celebrate the many members of the community who make this WSR special. In just a few short days friendships were forged and it was fun to socialize together into the night and raise our glasses to the 9th World Surfing Reserve at Guarda do Embaú,