Brazil is considered to be the most biodiverse country in the world. It’s 5th in terms of size (at 8.5 million square kilometres) and has a population of 217 million, making it the 7th most populous country in the world, but when it comes to ecological systems, habitats, and flora and fauna, it’s the global leader.
If you think of Brazil’s biodiversity, you’ll probably think of the Amazon rainforest - and you’d be right, because almost 60% of the forest sits within Brazil’s borders. The Amazon is home to approximately 10% of all known species on Earth, but Brazil is also home to the lesser known Atlantic Forest, which can be found along the country’s Atlantic coastline.
The Atlantic Forest
The Atlantic Forest stretches from northwestern Brazil, along the coast down to the south of the country. It’s home to a similar level of biological diversity as its larger counterpart, the Amazon, with around 5% of all vertebrates on earth and 8% of all plants calling this forest their home.
500 years ago, the Atlantic Forest was a huge and thriving forest. But while this used to be the second largest rainforest on the planet, covering more than 1.2 million square kilometres, it’s estimated that today only between 12%-25% of the original forest cover remains. This is made even more challenging as the remaining forested areas are small and fragmented.
Primary forests are hugely important for biodiversity, and you can discover more in our article on forest protection and primary forests. Much of the Atlantic Forest’s mature, primary forest has been lost, as a result of coffee and sugar plantations, timber exploitation, cattle farming, and increasing urbanisation.
While the rate of loss has slowed in recent decades, the damage has been vast and the deforestation continues. While this giant primary forest can’t be restored to its original size from centuries ago, work can be done to help restore the degraded land on which it once stood, and help trees to grow there once again.
Working together with Iniciativa Verde, Ecologi is supporting a project that aims to restore 12 hectares of degraded land that falls within the Atlantic Forest domain in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, in the south east of the country.
This land is currently abandoned pasture, like much of the land that was once covered by the dense Atlantic Forest. By reintroducing trees into this area, the project will not only help to restore the local area’s forest cover but also improve soil stability, as the soil of these exposed abandoned pastures is at risk of being washed away by nearby water sources.
By restoring this degraded land along the edges of the existing remnants of the Atlantic Forest, the project will additionally help to further protect the segmented areas of mature primary forest that do remain in the area.
You can find out more about the project, including photos and how it meets the UN’s sustainable development goals, on Ecologi’s website here.
15/05/2023 by NatuTeam