- WSL / Camila Othon

During the Oi Rio Pro, WSL and surfers Caio Ibelli and Isabella Nichols teamed up with local organizations and We Are One Ocean regional partners to protect and conserve the coastal ecosystems.

Saquarema is a well known surf spot and one of the 3429 cities that make up the Atlantic Forest Biome. More than 70% of the Brazilian population (148 million people) live in the domains of the Atlantic Forest, including Brazil's largest urban centers, such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and many others. As the name implies, the ecosystems of the Atlantic Forest are deeply connected with the Atlantic Ocean, from inland forests to coastal areas.

We Are One Ocean x WSL PURE in Saquarema Local kids from the Saquarema community and the Escola de Surf de Saquarema join WSL Championship Tour surfer Isabella Nichols to support the planting and beach clean up effort. - WSL / Camila Othon

At Saquarema, the Massambaba Environmental Protected Area helps to conserve coastal lagoons, native vegetation and dunes that supports the powerful beach break of Praia de Itaúna, but also protects watersheds and the home for many species, some facing extinction risks, such as the lizard Liolaemus lutzae, the antwren Formicivora littoralis and plants like Melanopsidium nigrum and Melocactus violaceus. An interesting fact is that the name Massambaba has its origins in the Tupi indigenous language, and refers to union or junction, revealing the ancient knowledge that these ecosystems and the ocean are connected.

The Atlantic Forest and the Coastal Zone are considered a national heritage by Brazil's Federal Constitution and its resources must be used sustainably, especially because the Atlantic Forest was already deeply degraded. According to data from the Brazilian environmental NGO SOS Mata Atlântica, only 12% of the biome's original forest cover remains. That's why the Brazilian Atlantic Forest is considered one of the world's biodiversity hotspots for conservation and an internationally priority area for ecological restoration to face climate change and biodiversity loss.

We Are One Ocean x WSL PURE in Saquarema WSL Championship Tour surfer Caio Ibelli joins SOS Mata Atlântica and kids from the Saquarema community in planting native species. - WSL / Camila Othon

SOS Mata Atlântica was founded in 1986 to inspire society to protect and conserve this national heritage and since 2021 it is developing actions with a grant provided by WSL PURE, aligned with the We Are One Ocean campaign and the pledge for world leaders to protect and conserve the ocean.

A report developed with WSL PURE's grant revealed that there are more than 128 Protected Areas created by local governments of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest over coastal and marine ecosystems. Another important finding was that most of these protected areas were created where the society was engaged and actively participating in broader policies, such as coastal management and city spatial planning.

We Are One Ocean x WSL PURE in Saquarema With the support of Mar Sem Lixo, participants planted 24 seedlings of native species to help enrich the dunes and inspire others to protect the area. - WSL / Camila Othon

To strengthen this social engagement, SOS Mata Atlântica and WSL PURE, together with local organizations Mar Sem Lixo project, Blue Birds sustainable tourism and institutional support from the Rio de Janeiro State Institute of Environment, seized the opportunity to combine the WSL Championship Tour event with a mobilization aligned to the Massambaba Environmental Protected Area.

The action involved a beach-clean up and the planting of coastal vegetation species, with the participation of kids form the Saquarema Surf School together with their surfing idols and the local population. The objective of these actions was to raise awareness about Protected Areas, like the Massambaba Environmental Protected Area, there are other thousands of Parks and Nature Reserves in the Atlantic Forest that need attention from society.

We Are One Ocean x WSL PURE in Saquarema WSL Championship Tour surfer Isabella Nichols joins local kids to support the beach clean up. - WSL / Camila Othon

A day before the competition stated, we removed 163 Kg of litter and planted 24 plants with the support of Mar Sem Lixo to enrich the dunes and to inspire the participants to take further steps to engage with conservation actions. In addition, with the support of WSL PURE and SOS Mata Atlântica, new signposts were donated to the Environmental Protected Area to help the local population to recognize the special habitat.

After the Championship Tour event, more than 200 plants will be planted to accelerate the recovery of coastal vegetation near Itaúna, a microplastic survey will be conducted by Mar Sem Lixo after the competition, and the local population will have the chance to visit and learn more about their local Protected Areas with accredited guides from Blue Birds to strengthen their relationship with these natural spaces. The actions will extend until the national campaign called Um Dia no Parque (A Day in the Park), that will happen on July 24, to promote a culture of a positive relationship between society and their Protected Areas.

Social engagement is key for the success of conservation efforts such as the establishment of Protected Areas and restoration projects, and surfers are important actors that can participate and be heard in decisions about the conservation and the future of our coasts and ocean. WSL and coalition partners are working to spread this message across our one global ocean.

To learn more about the partners, visit the links below:

As surfers, the ocean is our playground and our stadium. Getting involved in protecting and conserving the ocean is critical for us today and for future generations. Tell us what you are doing us by posting on social media with the hashtag #WeAreOneOcean and tagging @wsl and @wslpure in your posts. You can learn more and get involved at WeAreOneOcean.org.

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