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Brazil and Chile Royal Visit: Day Three

25th June 2014

Prince Harry as he plants a tree at Cota 200 outside Sao Paolo where he viewed Mata Atlantica, the Atlantic Rainforest, and learnt about the Serra do Mar and the Atlantic Forest Mosaics System project

Prince Harry as he plants a tree at Cota 200 outside Sao Paolo where he viewed Mata Atlantica, the Atlantic Rainforest, and learnt about the Serra do Mar and the Atlantic Forest Mosaics System project

Prince Harry continued his tour of Brazil by planting a tree in a rainforest today.   

Members of the Royal Family usually have the simple task of just adding a few shovels of earth to a tree already in the ground.

But when Prince Harry visited a Brazilian community living in a rainforest outside Sao Paulo, he not only had to dig the hole, but hammer in the commemoration plaque, tear off the tree's name label and give it a watering.

When he was asked if he was enjoying himself, Prince Harry joked about life as a Royal saying with a wry smile: "Planting trees - it's what we do."

Prince Harry was helping residents from the settlement of Cota, located within the Atlantic rainforest on a steep hill overlooking the port of Santos, plant trees to replace those lost due to urban development and to protect the homes from mudslides.

Local children gather to see Prince Harry plant a tree at Cota 200 outside Sao Paolo where he also viewed Mata Atlantica, the Atlantic Rainforest, and learnt about the Serra do Mar and the Atlantic Forest Mosaics System project

Local children gather to see Prince Harry plant a tree at Cota 200 outside Sao Paolo where he also viewed Mata Atlantica, the Atlantic Rainforest, and learnt about the Serra do Mar and the Atlantic Forest Mosaics System project

The project is part of a state government led initiative that has cleared slum buildings in the town and re-housed 2,400 families in a nearby development leaving 600.

Cota was once a shanty town that grew out of a worker's camp set up by the men who built the main road from the port of Santos to Sao Paulo over a 10-year period from 1939.

Prince Harry was invited to plant a manaca da Serra sapling that stood about two feet high and when he was handed a post-hole digger joked "this could take a while".

He dug away at the rich red earth and after a few minutes the hole was big enough for the tree and he put a few shovels of earth around it.  

Watched by youngsters who had been planting other trees he tore off the label and showed it to a little girl as if to say - don't drop litter - and put it in his back pocket.

Armed with a hammer he struck a plaque that bore his name in Portuguese "Principe Henry de Gales" into the ground and joked: "If I hit it any harder it's going to break."

When someone asked if it was his first Manaca tree planting he laughed and said "Yes" adding "I can't even pronounce it".

When Prince Harry first arrived he chatted to Eduardo Trani, an architect and one of the major figures of the town's redevelopment project, and Ester Miceno, a widow who was born and brought up in the settlement.

As he chatted to the pair they all looked at the breathtaking views over the rainforest to the port of Santos.

Describing the conditions before the development project began Mrs Miceno said: "It was very dangerous because when it rained the earth would slide down.

"The main problems were infrastructure and lack of transportation, everything was difficulty because we're so isolated."

The project has seen roads built and important improvements to the sewage and pavements laid out.

Properties that have not been bulldozed in the slum clearance have been decorated by their owners.

Prince Harry joined one woman in painting the outside of a home and used a roller to paint over a stencil, and as he did it he blew out his cheeks as he joked about the hard work.

Earlier he joined Brazilian chef David Hertz, who runs a not for profit organisation that uses cooking to improve the lives of disadvantaged people, at a cooking demonstration.

He did not try his hand at being a cook but sampled the dish caponata, made from bananas.