Interview: Cleiuodson “Peu” Lage (Pousada Tutabel)

Read our chat with Cleiuodson “Peu” Lage, who is manager of Pousada Tutabel in Porto Seguro in Brazil, and also responsible for the RPPN Rio Brasil – a Private Reserve of Natural Heritage working to preserve and recover native forest and water sources while also encouraging environmental education and social inclusion in the area.

Bee + Hive: Tell us about yourself?

Peu: Born in Porto Seguro, Brazil, I’m the proud son of an entire family of fishermen who built life on the basis of artisanal fishing and local fish trade. I studied Forestry Engineering at college, and soon realised it was with nature conservation that I wanted to work, directing my studies early on towards the Environmental area. Upon leaving college I returned to Porto Seguro, where I worked with environmental consulting for 1 year. After the consulting, came the opportunity to work in the conservation unit (my dream job!), starting work at the RPPN Rio do Brasil in December 2013 where I am still today.

Have you noticed sustainable tourism becoming more popular?

Peu: Yes! In the last decades the concern with the environment has become increasingly present in the day-to-day agenda. Along with the concerns about less pollution, use of renewable resources, clean energies, recycling, etc … came refining and reaching other areas of life. So, people have started to integrate sustainability in their travel and experiences. I must admit that we are still far from the ideal scenario, but having companies committed to providing sustainable activity and experiences for travellers (like Pousada Tutabel) is extremely important.

Have any guests been particularly inspired by the experiences on offer at the RPPN or Pousada Tutabel?

Peu: One of the most interesting was the visit of a European guest who was intending to explore a small trail in the RPPN and ended up traveling almost all the trails. She could not stop admiring and talking about the big trees we had along the trail and how it looked like stretches of the Amazon forest. During the trails we saw several birds and a group of monkeys (macacos-prego) that passed near us. We passed a vegetable garden and orchard where she had the opportunity to taste some fruit and herbs. She was in love with the lemon balm; we picked some branches and took them to back to Pousada Tutabel so she could have tea every day (all day). We had to even get some extra balms for her to take home to Sao Paulo. I mentioned a visit to the Pataxó village and she immediately scheduled to go the following day. I acted as a guide and translator; she was charmed by the Pataxó culture and participated in an exclusive ritual with the village Pajé (sorcerer).

What benefits can operating sustainably have for businesses?

Peu: The benefits are diverse. Environmental issues are becoming increasingly relevant and nowadays are part of the decision-making process of many businesses. Companies that are sustainable are working directly for the transformation of their communities, promoting activities that are environmentally friendly, and in some cases, eradicating harmful ones. The company ends up inspiring its employees who start to make sustainability part of their lives. As sustainability is not only environmentally friendly, but also linked to the economy and social issues, sustainable companies make a difference also in the social fronts of the local community, bringing opportunity to the native residents.

Are there any more sustainable practices you would like to implement in the future?

Peu: Yes! Today RPPN Rio do Brasil is one of the most active institutions of Porto Seguro but there is always room to do more and do better. Today our actions embrace the surrounding communities, but I still have a strong desire to make Rio do Brasil a reference in scientific research, giving opportunities for university students to carry out their studies. I also want to make Rio de Brasil a space for small courses and lectures on environmental and productive issues.

What do you love about what you do?

Peu: I absolutely love everything I do in Rio do Brasil, since as I mentioned above, early in college I realized that it was with conservation and sustainability that I wanted to work on. In the RPPN I have the opportunity to do in practice all that I envisioned during my studies, I have the possibility to support the education of children, youth and adults in the communities in need in the region. The strengthening of conservation units is very important, both in terms of the environment and history; we protect the fauna and flora and still preserve one of the most biodiverse forest stretches of the planet, in a territory considered by UNESCO as a natural world heritage. Although our projects focus on our territory, they have repercussions on all humanity, as after all, nobody owns clean air, water sources and biodiversity.