Ipomoea hederifolia


Mãe-da-Lua Reserve

Our RPPN (private reserve) is located in the municipality of Itapajé in the state of Ceará, about half way between the capital Fortaleza and Sobral. It includes the east and north sides of a low mountain range called "Serra das Vertentes" (about 400 ha) and lowland south of the mountains (about 360 ha). See fig. 1.
Serra das Vertentes
18/02/2010. RPPN Mãe-da-Lua, Itapajé-CE
Figura 1. Foreground: lowlands with dried-up reservoir. Background: the low mountain range of Mãe-da-Lua Reserve ("Serra das Vertentes"). The distance between points A (reservoir) and B ("mata fresca" on hill top) is about 1700 meters, and a falcon could get from A to B in less than two minutes. However, a human, walking on our sinuous trails, needs at least two hours.

The maximum elevation of the mountain range is 650-700 m.

Large parts of the property were covered by cotton plantations until about 1970. The cotton areas included the lowland and easily accessible hillsides, but did not extend into areas of more difficult access, like steep hillsides and mountain tops. On one of the mountains existed a banana plantation, which was abandoned in the late sixties or early seventies.

From the 70ties onwards, the farm was used mainly for grazing cattle in native pasture (i.e. in caatinga) and for slash-and-burn subsistence agriculture. The areas of difficult access and some of the former cotton areas were left to themselves.

The non-profit group "Associação Mãe-da-Lua" bought the land in 2006 and has transformed it into a nature reserve. Flora and fauna are now protected and hunting is forbidden. Since 2009, the reserve is officially recognized and registered as private reserve or RPPN, see Portaria 58, from 29 July 2009, Ministério do Meio Ambiente.

The flora of the reserve is varied. In general, the areas of difficult access are best preserved. In part of the mountains, the forest is growing without human interference since 40-50 years or more. There are also areas where the forest has never been cut, but at least some of these did suffer from wildfires.

Vegetation of the hills

In the mountain range, the main vegetation types are:

Serra das Vertentes
28/02/2010. RPPN Mãe-da-Lua, Itapajé-CE
Figura 2.

(A) Dry forest in rocky area, with 2-4 m high trees, in mountain range of Mãe-da-Lua Reserve.

(B) The biggest embiratanha (Pseudobombax marginatum) in the hills of Mãe-da-Lua Reserve.

Vegetação da Planície

The lowlands are covered by secondary arboreal Caatinga in various stages of regrowth and recovery (fig. 4). There are extensive areas with a high biodiversity, which seem to have been undisturbed for at least 40-50 years. Other areas are less well preserved, with younger secondary growth.

Caatinga lowland
21/02/2010. Reserva Mãe-da-Lua, Itapajé-CE.
Figure 4. Arboreal Caatinga in the lowlands of Mãe-da-Lua Reserve. (A): Arapiraca (Chloroleucon dumosum). (B) Sabiá (Mimosa caesalpiniifolia). Around this location, one can sometimes see or hear White-browed Guans, Little Wood-Rails or Brown Capuchin monkeys.

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