Guarujá: Island wins unprecedented sustainable seal in the Americas – 03/21/2024 – Environment

Guarujá: Island wins unprecedented sustainable seal in the Americas – 03/21/2024 – Environment


Traditional destination in Baixada Santista, Guarujá has just had its Ilha dos Arvoredos recognized as a reference in sustainable ecotourism by the seal of the international Green Key program. A first in the Americas and the southern hemisphere, the certification is an international reference for tourist attractions.

The island breaks the hegemony of Europe and Asia by receiving the Green Key and thus joins 97 other points that already had the seal.

The Green Key program is managed by FEE (Foundation for Environmental Education), a Danish entity represented in Brazil by IAR (Instituto Ambientes em Rede).

“The seal, without a doubt, brings greater visibility to the island and the municipality”, said the national coordinator of the Green Key program, Leana Bernardi. “We were able to see all the unique work carried out there. This attraction is impressive.”

Before Brazil, places in South Korea, Germany, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Greece, Estonia, Finland, Denmark, Slovenia, Belgium and the Netherlands had Green Key certification.

The island is 1.5 km from Pernambuco beach. Without a sand strip area, it stands out for the natural beauty of the rocks and vegetation. Among the island’s sustainable points are having drinking water with a rain collection system and solar energy capture panels.

There are 36 thousand mtwo of preserved landscape, with a nursery of native Atlantic forest seedlings and research projects on the local fauna and flora. The island also houses a medicinal garden (with medicinal plants from the coast), native and exotic plants.

The location, in the APA (Environmental Protection Area) Marinha Litoral Centro, is a route for several marine species. Birds can be seen, and turtles feed on the cliff sides, among other species.

There are also architectural curiosities, such as the Phoenix, a 72-ton reinforced concrete bird that serves as a counterweight to the crane through which visitors enter — the island can only be reached by boat.

Ilha dos Arvoredos was a concession from the Navy to São Paulo engineer and environmentalist Fernando Eduardo Lee, between the 1950s and 1960s. He then created the Fernando Eduardo Lee Foundation, to manage the area. The foundation is part of the management committee alongside Inmar (Instituto Nova Maré).

“This seal puts Guarujá once and for all on the world map of sustainable tourism”, said the president of Inmar Bruno Tacon. “We are showing that we can do something different from the predatory: focusing on environmental education, research and our own history. A coastline, to be enjoyed, needs to be well looked after. And the island today is the greatest example of a sustainable project in Brazil. “

Which doesn’t mean everything is perfect. According to Tacon, the monthly cost of Ilha dos Arvoredos is around R$50,000 — and the bill never ends.

“The revenue obtained from visitors, who pay from R$99 to R$230 to enter, does not even cover 15% of this total. Especially because we have expenses for boats to bring people, support staff, monitors, insurance and others.”

Guarujá City Hall does not have direct participation in the management of the site. In the view of the deputy secretary of the Environment of Guarujá, Cleiton Jordão, the certification joins other titles already achieved, such as in the APA of Serra do Guararu — considered, in 2018, an example of efficiency by Iclei, a global sustainability network — and the Blue Flag seal for Tombo beach for the 14th consecutive time, in 2023.

“All themes and seals are interconnected. They show that it is worth focusing on environmental protection and sustainable management”, he says.

It was precisely to better welcome visitors that the Sustainable World project was born in 2021, responsible for operationalizing this entire flow. Since then, 2,500 people have participated in technical and tourist visits.

For Priscilla Bonini Ribeiro, advisor and researcher at the Fernando Eduardo Lee Foundation and general director of Unaerp Guarujá, it is important that the place also attracts sponsorship, so that it can be sustained. She is the author of the book “Ilha dos Arvoredos: Paradise of Sustainability”.

“We continue to look for support because, in addition to being very well preserved, the island requires improvements. There are areas that are not open to visitors, because there is a need to create additional security and access structures. Without money, it’s not possible”, he states.

Created in 2021 with the aim of strengthening the presence of civil society in major decisions in Baixada Santista, Aguaviva (Associação Guarujá Viva) also highlights the relevance of the island.

“It is intangible heritage of the greatest relevance, especially in these times of climate emergency on a planetary scale. We salute the legacy of Fernando Lee”, says the entity’s president, José Manoel Ferreira Gonçalves.

Information about visits and sponsorships can be obtained on the website or by calling (13) 99637-3288.


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