Clean Rivers

Clean Rivers is a Greenworks-sponsored project focusing on river clean-up and geotourism along the Sukel’ River in the Carpathian Mountains, Ukraine.


Map inset with São Paulo state outlined thickly, the Vale do Ribeiro region in the south outlined an shaded in green, with a red line from Campinas in the central part of the state down to Guapiruvu in the Vale do Ribeira region starred.  Additional important cities for the project are highlighted, including Sete Barras directly to the east of Guapiruvu and Iguape and Cananéia to the south on the coast.

Where is the Sukel’ River?

Vale do Ribeira is located in the southern part of São Paulo state and extends into the nearby state of Paraná, Brazil, and encompasses the area around the Ribeiro de Iguape River.  It is among the poorest and least developed parts of the state and is home to 21% of what remains of the Atlantic Forest, an astounding tropical rain forest ecosystem.

We work with the agroforestry community of Guapiruvu, which is about six hours away from where our academic partners live and work at Universidade Estadula de Campinas (UNICAMP).  Experts and resources are recruited from the towns of Sete Barras, Iguape, and Cananéia.

Who Lives There?

A drone-eye view of a group of kids surrounding two men who are piloting a drone

Vale do Ribeira is home to a mixture of populations, including indigenous, quilombola (descendants of escaped slaves), caiçara (coastal mixtures of indigenous, African, and European peoples), and immigrant communities.  People here subsist primarily on agriculture, fishing, and ecotourism.

What are We Doing?

A group of Brazilian kids, adults, and elders surround a teacher who is showing the inside of a small wooden box, where tropical bees are housed.

We are working to support and improve education in agroecological topics, primarily tropical stingless bees, which are critically important to the ecological health of the region.  This is part of a larger project to sustainably develop the region through agroecology.

What is Geotourism?

Tropical stingless (or native) bees consist of hundreds of species of bees with reduced or nonexistent stingers which live all across the topics.  They can be as tiny as a fruit fly or as big as a honey bee.  Because they do not sting, they are great for teaching and keeping around the yard as low-maintenance pets.  Although they don’t sting, some do bite (although it is not usually painful).

Tropical stingless bees produce honey and fermented pollen, both of which are stored in pots (as opposed to honeycombs).  The honey takes on a variety of flavors and is runnier than honey bee honey because it contains less sugar.  Honey is extracted from the pots via pipettes.  They also produce wax and propolis.  Tropical native bees are raised in meliponarios (as opposed to apiaries).  In Guapiruvu, they are an important component of agroecology, since they pollinate the juçara palm which is threatened by illegal harvesting.

1) A meliponario at AirbnBee in Barão Geraldo, Brazil, near UNICAMP; 2) Bugia bees feeding on sugar water at a trough feeder; 3) Jataí bees hovering near the tube entrance to their hive; 4) Inside of a jataí hive, showing the egg disk and surrounding pots filled with honey and pollen (they are stored separately); 5) Inside of a bugia hive, showing a similar structure; 6) Bees maintaining the entrance to their hive; 7) Bees working on producing honey; 8) Building a meliponario in Guapiruvu (this one stores all the hives under the same structure) [photos by Lev Horodyskyj and Roberto Greco]

Latest Updates

May 2024

  • The team mapped the opposite side of the river from the Dovbush Rocks, and discovered lower impacts on the environment from recreational activity due to lack of development of tourism and sporting facilities, such as trails and spikes for rock climbing.
  • A significant illegal construction dump was discovered near the village of Polianytsia.

April 2024

  • The team worked to map the geologic outcrops and spontaneous dumps farther up-river.  They identified spontaneous dumps near the village of Kozakivka.  Additionally, they identified geologic objects for teaching and tourism.
  • Additional work was conducted near Dovbush Rocks, which are a significant tourist attraction that is now facing economic ruin due to the war and the loss of tourism.  They identified significant erosion of topsoil due to unregulated use of horses, ATVs, and motorcycles, which negatively impacts the river.

March 2024

  • Ihor, Andrij, Anatolii, and Kateryna surveyed the Sukel’ River in the Bolekhiv area as well as the nearby village of Bukovets’.  They utilized laser scanning and drones to map out geologic features in the area and identify trash dumps.
  • The team talked with sawmill owner Mykola Fedorko and discussed managing water pollution from the mill, including upgrading the sawmill’s waste management systems, implementing more sustainable logging practices to reduce runoff, and introducing water treatment facilities to ensure discharge to the river meets environmental safety standards.
  • The team chatted with Andrij Savchyn, the leader of the local scouts, to see if they would be interested in partaking in river health outreach and activities.

January 2024

  • Clean Rivers has officially started.  Dr. Ihor Bubniak and his team from Lviv Polytechnic visited the Precarpathian Professional College of Forestry and Tourism (PPCFT) in Bolekhiv as well as the Bolekhiv City Council.  They discussed the project goals of researching and innovating approaches to river health with Yuriy Chernevyy, the director of PPCFT, as well as the mayor of Bolekhiv.


Ihor Bubniak

Ihor Bubniak

Project Lead

Lviv Polytechnic