Still in the first half of century XX, Augusto Ruschi promoted excursions thru Brazil and used to question academic personalities, enterprise representatives, politics, with many relevant questions about the importance of thinking the man and the nature capable of a respectful and sustainable relation. He was the pioneer of the sustainable handling of the tropical forests, of agroecology, of the biological control of tropical illnesses and zoonoses, of the denunciations on the danger of agro toxics, to say the minimum of the solutions that offered to governants and skeptical scientist. He tireless fought and he worked as very few in the history of the humanity, in order that measures of containment of the pollution and the destruction - that still is present – should be taken ... and so much after the alert of the pioneer, the subject started to deserve finaly, a space on the internacional agenda as priority.
He left us a vast writen work with 450 works and 22 books, 2 scientific institutions - Museum of Biology prof the Mello Leitão and Biology Sea Station Ruschi, 1 foundation - Brazilian Foundation of Conservation of the Nature, some reserves amongst which the National Park of the Caparaó, and one of the biggest Bank of existing information on the Atlantic forest.
There is a lot to rescue of the work of this recognized Scientist, one of the 1000 great men who had constructed knowledge and the ideas of century XX, and without a doubt the main personage of the national ecological defense.
Left one of the biggest existing bank of images with around 50,000 images constituted. His published books more known are: Birds of Brazil vol. I and II, hummingbirds of Espirito Santo, Hummingbirds of Brazil vol. I and II, Phitogeografia of the Espirito Santo State, Orcquids of the Espirito Santo, Agroecology, among others. The Marine Biology Station Ruschi and the House Augusto Ruschi are the only institutions that holds copyrights, pertinent the works of this great Brazilian scientist.
Was undoubtfully outsdanding world specialist in hummingbirds, leaving the biggest written bank of information about the subject in the world. Also it was the main world-wide authority on ecology of the Atlantic Forest, being the only scientist in the world to live 50 years in the interior of the woods and study it for all this period. Also he left significant contributions in studies of bats,monkeys, bromélias, orcquids and environmental impact.
Augusto Ruschi was born in Saint Teresa, in 12 of December of 1915, a small city of Italian settling in the mountains of Espirito Santo. He was the eighth among twelve children of the couple of immigrants Giuseppe Ruschi and Maria Roatti. His father was agronomist, worked with topography and construction; he came to Brazil in mission of the Italian Government to assist in the development of the Italian settlements outside Italy.
His family has more than two thousand years of tradition in the work with science and plants, cultivating them and studying them, being also the name Ruschi, originary of the family of Ruscus Aculeatus, specie or azevinho of the field. Some ancestral of him, as Giovani Ruschi and Pietro Ruschi, had been scientists in renascentist Italy, being part of the group of Michelangelo and Galileo Galilei.
Augusto Ruschi, still boy, presented an innate curiosity for the flowers that his father cultivated as hobby in "Chacara Anita". He started his studies in Santa Teresa, at Italy/Brazilian school, where in various situations, was reprehended in class, for playing with insects he used to carry inside small bottles and match boxes.
With ten years he moved to the capital of the State, the city of Vitoria, to study in the state college. His teacher of Sciences and Natural History was Maria Estela de Novaes a researcher and specialist in State in Espirito Santo History. Perceiving its passion for the life of the insects, animals and plants she became the great responsible by the young Ruschi, in his initiation in the world of Sciences. The great sensibility of the master, allied to its lucidity and firm temperament, had been the basic ingredients of this process of scientific initiation that had assisted Gutti, as known by family and friends. Gutti lived in the woods, observing, drawing and collecting plants, flowers and animals, passing many days until returning. Therefore, many times were given as dead or insane.
The books to which Ruschi had access at the time were becoming insufficient and some, even incorrect face his questionings and comments on the field. As consequence, he initiated an interchange with researchers of the National Museum and the Botanical Garden, sending material collected to the researchers, requesting specialized bibliographies in exchange.
In specific occasion, he sent its comments about a plague on the orange groves which was devastating the farming, describing the cycle of life of the hazardous, to the Museum and requesting additional information regarding the subject. The responsible for this area in the National Museum, was Professor Mello Leitão that passed the information of Ruschi for Professor Felippo Silvestre, Italian scientist and specialist who studied forms to fight the plague that was destroying orange fields in the whole world.
The information of Ruschi had been basic for the solution of the problems, as they fitted exactly as complementation of a world-wide research developed about the subject, where millions of dollars had been invested. Ruschi had had enough time to observe 500 boxes of worms, action that the laboratories had not made. Hence, still young, then with 12 years old, he started to become known and admired by some scientists of the country.
Alert for the important contribution of young Ruschi, Prof. Mello Leitão decided to support him, contributing for its scientific perfectioning and the development of his research.
With 17, Ruschi started to work for the National Museum and Botanical Garden as collector of botanical and zoological materials.
His research had been basic for the knowledge of the fauna and the flora of Atlantic Forest.
He started to live in the city of Rio De Janeiro and was Professor of the Federal University of Brazil (current UFRJ), in 1937, at the age of 22. In this period, Augusto Ruschi was under direct orientation of the Professor Jose Cândido Mello Leitão, a great Brazilian scientist, main specialist in arachnids at world-wide level. The methodical and closed personality, allied to the scientific spirit of Professor Mello Leitão, turned him a person with few friends, as his time was fully dedicated to Science.
In his staying at Rio De Janeiro, the young scientist quickly became particular friend of the master, with whom frequently had long talks and exchanges of information. Guided by the Professor,Ruschi started to access a bibliography, that was rapidly absorbed and revealed insufficient.
With his demand for knowledge, Ruschi did not delay too long in depleting his permanence in Rio De Janeiro. His field experience contested many of the theorethical statements of the available literature. On the other hand, referring to Hummingbirds, his bigger interest, very little, had science dedicated to.
He felt that the field work that carried through before, in the virgin forest of the Espirito Santo State, was much more relevant for science than the work in the laboratories. He used as advantage, thus, the convalescence of a serious illness, to return to his native land.
Gutti was aware of his curiosity and intelligence for the most diverse subjects. Naturalist, botanical, ornithologist, topographer, bachelor in law, Titular Professor of the Federal University of Rio De Janeiro and researcher of the National Museum. He did a relevant contribution, also, to the Ministery of Agriculture, Ministery of the Education and Government of the State of the Espirito Santo.
In years 40, he gave support to the Secretary of Agriculture of the state of Espirito Santo, developing a politics of preservation of the environment. As result of this work, he implanted various conservation units.
To back up the environmental state politic and his research, he created at "Chacara Anita" a scientific institution in 26 of June of 1949, in the same date where 74 years before Italians had started to colonize the ground Teresense. Named the institution Museum of Biology Professor Mello Leitão, in recognition to the master. To start the scientific activities of the Museum he collected and joinned all the surveys data that had carried through, until then and initiated the publication of his works. He edited about 400 numbers of the Bulletin of the MBML. He launched two main thesis, one on the Ecological Reserves, little common subject at the time, and another one on the Auto-sustainable Agricultural Development in Tropical Forests.
The thesis of Ruschi on the Reserves defended these as spaces of preservation that the world could not do without, as they represented a Genetic Bank of threatened specimens of the extinguishing nature. He was launched in one of the first Forest Congresses of international scope, in Rome, in the year of 1951, being very well received by international scientific world, that spreaded from then on thru entire Europe. Thus, in the beginning of this decade, started to appear Forest Reserves in the whole world, becoming this action, one of the most important environmental preservation politics.
Ruschi also initiated the quarrel on the pollution effects of agrotóxics on ecosystems. After the Second World War , came the necessity to intensify the food production, thru the use of chemical fertalizer and a control on the plagues. Ruschi started to observe the death of the birds and insects after the spraying with agrotóxics over the fields and other effects as consequence from the poisoning of the nature. He published some works about the subject, being one of the first to denounce to society, the dangers of the DDT.
Augusto Ruschi published more than 450 scientific works of great importance, as “Birds of Brazil “and “Hummingbirds of Espirito Santo”, books on orcquíds, bats, monkeys, birds and works with proposals of solution for ambiental problems for various regions of the country.
His great passion and more important scientific works are related with the hummingbirds, orcquíds and all the other plants polinized by these birds. No bibliography existed on the hummingbirds and Augusto Ruschi, started to dedicate his life to scientific data-collecting, referring this family of birds. It was first in the world that reproduced them in captivity, and to domesticate them. He was internationally known for these researchs, becoming the great world-wide reference on hummingbirds.
For acomplishing his research he carried through 259 scientific excursions to all places of the world, from Patagônia to Alasca, always registering in publications enriched with many photographs and slides, all his osevations and comments about nature, the animals and the plants, his inseparable friends.
In his many trips visiting and walking inside of the forests, Ruschi testified the aggressions that they were being submitted to. The stubbornness of the people in continuing to destroy the environment, knowing that they were making impracticable the life in the planet ... if they at least could get aware of that - these insane people. They would do anything to avoid destruction. Used to say that if the forests were destroyed he would die of sadness.
"They cut to the Forests ignoring everything that is inside. Nobody wants to know that it is the house of thousand of animals, hundreds of thousand of species of insects, of plants, that make its balance. And the natural equilibrium is complex, where the absence of an element can cause a very great imperfection. The man is that disturbs and unbalances ", said.
His indignation increased the more he went deep into the subject. He faced authorities, companies and even justice itself to defend the virgin forest and the ecological reserves.
Became a national myth when corageously questionned publically, in 1977, the Governor of the State of the Espirito Santo. The authority lowered a decreet determining that in the Reserve of Santa Lúcia, a plant of tinned palm trees hearts was to be implanted, and the hearts of the palms to be industrialized should be extracted of the proper reserve. Imagine, in Santa Lúcia , a Biological Station of the National Museum, with thousand of catalogued orcquids and 20 thousand trees numbered with identification plates, recognized as one of the richest regions of the world in epifits flora, taken care by Ruschi during more than 40 years, not allowing that a single piece of wood was cutted or removed from any plant.
Ruschi received the inspectors from the government, who had come to make the topography of the reserve with a rifle in the hand, ielling:“Not here . If anybody transpass this point, will stay definitly on the ground. In defense of the nature I am capable to kill or to die ". The arguments of the scared fiscals were worthless. Ruschi ordered them to return to the Governor with the following message: "Return immediatelly back to the palace and inform to the governor that either he changes his mind and cancel the decreet or tomorrow early, I will go there to kill him personally.".
The governor informed the Federal Policy and Ruschi, the national and international press.
The small city of Santa Teresa was invaded by journalists, that noticed, all the press, for the whole nation a dramatic and realistic appeal, issued by Ruschi, for the preservation of the Reserve. What happened next was that started to arrive hundreds of manifestations of support, from the whole world and from the country, and the Governor, face such great repercussion, withdrew in the intentions: the Reserve of Santa Lúcia was saved from the threat of destruction.
This turned to be the moment, when Ruschi’s work left its condition of books, research of field and scientific works and gained body and forms at the view of the national public opinion, transforming him into a symbol against the aggressions to the environment. Was able, in various ocasions to prevent devastation of great forested areas , and said that all time that remained to him of life, he would continue the same, defending the Brazilian forest and fighting for it, because above all, he was defending the survival of humanity.
Ruschi was one of the few voices that raised in the period of Military regime, to denounce destruction of great areas of forest in Amazônia, considered by him the biggest crime that was being done against life in the planet, as well as the mistakes in the occupation project of this region.
The history of Augusto Ruschi, his trajectory and controversies, would not become public, if inexisted his great interlocutors and friends. Among the main ones are: Assis Chateubriandt, Mr. Crawford Greenwalt, Etiene Beraut, Fernando Lee, Louis Marden, Dr. Rebouças, Otacílio Coser, Dr. Carlos Teixeira De Campos, Anibal Moutinho, John Helal, Rubem Braga, Carlos Drumond de Andrade, Cândido Firmino de Mello Leitão, Aluísio de Mello Leitão, Konrad Lorenz, Jacques Vieillard. The life of each one of these men had been full of great facts, histories, discoveries, or attitudes of great ethical and personal value. Together these men transformed a good part of history and culture of the human civilization of the XX century. They created new sciences or had been pioneers in their ideas as agroecology, bioacústics and etology, awaked the echological thinking in the world, launched the seed of world-wide protection of world-wide biodiversity and specially the Brazilian, modified multinationals, laws, improved human life and above all, they enchanted multitudes with their histories, photos, or wise advices for the present and the future. Augusto Ruschi was friend of all them, that like a magician, telling his stories, enchanted and delighted them with his message of great power and wisdom, which was the protection of nature. This idea push them to join in the criation of a ONG, leadered by Augusto Ruschi and Assis Chateubriandt, the Society of the Friends of Hummingbirds, with headquarters in the proper house of Assis. They use to congregated monthly in the Yellow House, São Paulo and had planned various acts of interference in the national politic scenary with preservacionists purposes and eventually, revolutionaries.
Also he was a defender of the culture and the rights of the aboriginal minorities, which he had a close knowledge due to his trips thru the forests along the tributaries of the Amazon river, Andes and the valleys in Peru and of Colombia. Ruschi had contact with hundreds of aboriginal tribes. He observed that the indians who inhabited, for thousand years, the region, are depositaries of a knowledge on the nature that does not have scientific register. They withhold the cultural memory of the use of the flora and the fauna in the cure of diseases and in daily applications.
Was hugging the aboriginal culture that Ruschi called again the attention of the country, in the year of 1986. Seriously illed, due to remains left by esquistossomoses and malaria, that contracted during its research at the forests, and seriously affected by the poison of dendrobata frog which had been absorbed by his organism years behind, during a collection of material in the Amapá territory, Ruschi decided to be submit to an aboriginal ritual in the hope that this medicine, based on grass and roots, would help him to face the illness. Consideringthat he had submitted himself to all the conventional medical treatments.
The pajelança happened in the Park of the City, a forest reserve of the South Zone of Rio De Janeiro and started in the morning of 23 of January of 1986. The Chief Raoni and the Pajé Sapaim had made the ritual using an arsenal of plants brought especially from the Amazônia. In a closed space, they swallowed leaf made cigarettes, that produced a thick smoke, that they blowed on the scientist, intercalating with aboriginal mantrans. The Indian chief and pajé scrubbed the body of Ruschi with a unguento prepared from fruits and, after some minutes, appeared in their hands a secretion, first white, after greenish, as per declarations of the few people who had attended the tense ritual.
The national and international media explored this situation. The country was impressed about Ruschi dialogue with the indian chief Raoni, of the Txucarramãe Tribe, and with the Pajé Sapaim, of the Camiurá tribe, on medicinal plants and methods of treatment, as well as the ritual that was known as "pajelança".
In all his years of ecological fight, Ruschi never tasted so great notoriety. He was in the center of the national attentions for more than one week, a much bigger audience than that he got when he faced the Governor of the Espirito Santo or when obtained the the definitive protection of the Santa Lucia reserve, in the same State.
The episode of the pajelança served to promote the image of Ruschi widely to all the layers of the Brazilian population, as well as the significance and the vanguardism of his work.
Ruschi died shortly afterwards, of hepátic cirrhosis, with the liver definitively compromised by the illnesses acquired in its research in the forests, mainly the virus of hepatitis B and C. Was found in the scientist no trace of the poison of frogs or other animals. Complying with his desire he was buried in the woods of the Biólogic Reserve of Santa Lúcia. Coincidently, he was buried in 5th of June of 1986, in the World Day of the Environment. He spoke of the hope that had that the hummingbirds would lead him to the kingdom of God.
Man of the forest, passionate conservacionist, scientist internationally recognised, Ruschi was worried about the continuity of his work. Thinking about this, he donated the Biology Museum Mello Leitão and the Reserve of Santa Lúcia , to the National Foundation Pró-Memória, and the copyrights of its literary works, manuscripts and archive of photos to the only son who followed the scientific career.
Augusto Ruschi died, convinced that the only hope for humanity survival was thru a radical change in his relation with the environment. According to him, all the effort would be worthless, if we dont prepare the awareness of the children of today for the conservation of nature importance: "Ecology in the Brazilian schools is not taught even having a law that turned it a requirement. While we do not prepare the children in the right direction, the future of nature in Brazil will continue threatened."
His fight continues now in Andre Ruschi’s hands, who followed him during years, absorbing the teachings, wisdom and philosophical dynamics of this great scientist. Andre is proceeding with his father task, searching and elaborating theories and methodologies on Ambiental Education with children, project developed at Marine Biologic Station Ruschi, an institution of research created by Ruschi in 1970. In the work of Andre Ruschi is present the essence of the work of Augusto Ruschi : a deep love for the nature, the research developed in the field and the necessity to contribute for the vital change to the survival of life in the planet.
For Andre Ruschi, this is the moment of the change. We are for the first time facing a real threat of extinction of the human being and all the life of the planet.Therefore, the people are congregating to decide what to do in relation to the ambiental subject. The moment of the end is rappidly approaching. Various foreseens for the end exist; the prime materials will finish, the chemical fertalizers, the natural reserves, fóssil fuels. We coexist with nuclear madness, the poisoning of the environment, the contamination of the garbage, the desperate hunger,eating the social system of the humanity. The world is entering in convulsion. For this reason the importance of changing the relation of the man with its environment, through the work with the children, who are the renewal of the human being and of the planet.
In 1987, Andre wrote to the deputy Fabio Feldman which was one of the representatives in the congress involved with the creation of the new constitution, the proposal pertinent to the Chapter Environment, at the Federal Constitution, named article 225, wich became approved and published in 1988.
In 2000, 2001 and 2002, in many participations at the session of the Plenary in Nacional Conferency’s Health, Andre offered the proposition for approval considering the inclusion in the scope of the SUS of the following alternative therapies: Phytoterapy, Homeopathy, Massotherapy, Acupunture, amonst varios other approved in national level.
Augusto and Andre Ruschi are a reference for all those, that consider the proposal to contribute for a imminent cultural revolution and the only possible way able to prevent the collapse of the life in Earth. Thru a new echological ethics, based on the Ambiental Education.
Solutions exists and they are at the reach of our intelligence and sensitivity. Men exist, which know what are these exits and they propose to transmit and to interchange these knowledges.
People who knows the land and the nature, because they live in contact with it, searching in the field, perceiving new forms of knowledge and agents of a balanced social dinamics.
The history, the ideas and the philosophy of Augusto Ruschi opportunely are remembered as a commitment in the soul of those that had understood the spirit of all his fight, because:
"The number of men in Earth will not be determined by the laws of the man, but yes by the laws of the nature."
"Certain people will answer me: At the proper moment the man will know how to create new sources of feeding. What do you know about this and what do you know about the moment "
"Some will yet tell me: After us the Planet flood !!! Certainly, accurately the Earth flood. And is exactly because it can be foreseen that we ask to all that help us to prevent it." Augusto Ruschi
PEACE AND LOVE TO ALL THE BEINGS PROJECT ARCA DE NOÉ
Santa Cruz, 30 of September of 1997