In the vastness of Brazilian geography, beyond the world-famous Amazon, there are five diverse biomes that are ecological treasures of the planet due to their vital value. One of them is the Atlantic Forest, one of the world’s oldest forests.
This forest, despite having a great diversity of species and offering an exceptional range of benefits and resources that are essential for both nature and human communities, has been heavily degraded due to its location.
Definition of the Atlantic Forest Biome
The Atlantic Forest, also known as Mata Atlântica in Portuguese, is a biome that stretches along the eastern coast of Brazil, spanning from the north to the south of the country, as well as the northern region of Argentina and the southeastern part of Paraguay.
This biome is a paradigmatic example of biodiversity, housing a varied range of plant and animal species, many of which are endemic, meaning they are exclusive to this region and not found anywhere else in the world. This biome is also one of the planet’s richest natural areas in terms of species, with an estimated 7% of the world’s plant species and 5% of vertebrate animal species.
Iconic species that inhabit this forest include jaguars, sloths, spider monkeys, and red-tailed parrots.
The Atlantic Forest is known for its diverse and stratified structure, with multiple layers ranging from the upper canopy to the understory, allowing different species to occupy different ecological niches. Furthermore, the irregular topography and variety of microclimates present in this region have given rise to the evolution of different types of forests, from dense jungles to coastal mangroves.
Importance of the Atlantic Forest
The significance of the Atlantic Forest goes beyond its mere beauty and biodiversity.
This biome plays a vital role in the ecological stability of the region and in the lives of the human communities that inhabit its surroundings. In addition to being home to numerous endangered species, the Atlantic Forest also contributes to the regulation of the hydrological cycle, soil conservation, and the mitigation of climate change.
The interconnection between biodiversity and ecosystem health is evident in this context, as the loss of a single species can have dominant effects throughout the food chain.
The ecoregion encompasses major cities such as Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo and is home to approximately 150 million people. In Brazil, the Atlantic Forest ecoregion generates 70% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Current Status and Threats
Despite its undeniable importance, the Atlantic Forest has experienced a drastic decline in its extent due to historical deforestation, agricultural expansion, and uncontrolled urbanization.
It is estimated that only around 12% of the original area of this biome remains today. This dramatic reduction has led to the extinction of numerous species and habitat fragmentation, compromising the long-term viability of many organisms.
Originally, the Mata Atlântica occupied a territorial expanse of 1,315,000 square kilometers along the eastern coast of Brazil, but its original area has been reduced to fragments and scattered remnants. Currently, less than 100,000 square kilometers of intact Atlantic Forest remain, representing a considerable loss of its original extent.
Supporting the Atlantic Forest
Despite the challenges, it is encouraging to observe ongoing efforts to preserve and restore the Atlantic Forest.
At Carbon Credits Consulting, we strive to protect as many biomes as possible. For the past five years, we have been working on reforestation in the Cerrado, and now we have expanded our efforts to encompass a transitional zone between the Cerrado and the Atlantic Forest, which has suffered degradation mainly due to agricultural and livestock expansion.
Our reforestation projects, in addition to sequestering carbon, aim to create biological corridors that allow the return of wildlife to areas disrupted by human activity.