Plants and Animals

The Atlantic Rainforest – Brazil’s Most Threatened Biome


While the Amazon is South America’s largest and most well-known rain forest, another rain forest, the Atlantic Forest, is as vital to nature and humans. The Atlantic Forest South-East Reserves are spread across almost 470,000 hectares in the Brazilian states of Paraná and So Paulo, and constitute one of the biggest and best-preserved domains of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, as well as one of the world’s most endangered biomes. The site’s protected sections are rich in biological diversity and provide a superb example of the development of the last remaining Atlantic Forest remnants in southeastern Brazil.

The region is extraordinarily diverse, with a considerable number of rare and unique species. With its altitudinal gradient extending from mountains to the sea, its estuary, wild rivers, coastal islands, numerous waterfalls, and karst phenomena, the site also has a remarkable aesthetic interest.


The Atlantic Rainforest is known to have shrunk to relatively tiny fragmented refugia in highly protected gullies during glacial periods in the Pleistocene, separated by stretches of dry forest or semi-desert known as caatingas. Some maps even claim that the forest persisted in damp pockets far from the shore, where its indigenous rainforest species coexisted with much cooler-climate species. Unlike refugia for tropical rainforests, Atlantic Forest refuges have never been the result of careful identification.


Around 2,200 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians live in the Atlantic Forest, accounting for 5% of all vertebrates on the planet. This forest is home to approximately 200 bird species that are found nowhere else in the world, as well as 60 percent of all vulnerable animal species in Brazil.

With 77 species and subspecies recognized to date, Brazil is the global leader in primate diversity. There are 26 of them in the Atlantic Forest, with 21 of them being found nowhere else on the planet.

The golden lion tamarin, wooly spider monkey, red-tailed parrot, and maned three-toed sloth are among the most charismatic species found in the Atlantic Forest.


This forest is also one of the world’s most diverse natural environments, home to notable animals such as jaguars, sloths, tamarins, and toucans. The Atlantic Forest of Brazil is also home to 20,000 plant species, accounting for 8% of all plant species on the planet. Across fact, researchers from the New York Botanical Garden identified 458 tree species in 2.5 acres in the 1990s, more than double the number of tree species found throughout the whole eastern shore of the United States. New flora and wildlife species are always being found.

The Atlantic Forest’s Forest structure has numerous canopies that sustain a diverse flora mix. This contains a wide range of ferns, mosses, and epiphytes, such as lianas, orchids, and bromeliads.


  • Only 7% of the 1,000,000km2 of original Atlantic Forest that originally covered Brazil’s coast remains today.

  • In Paraguay, just 13% of the natural forest has left.

  • The Atlantic Forest is home to more than 52 percent of the world’s tree species and 92 percent of the world’s amphibians.

  • There are 6,000 endemic plant species, 263 amphibians, and 160 animals, including 22 primate species.

Is it true that people live in the Atlantic Forest?

The Amazon is thousands of kilometers away from where most Brazilians live, but the Atlantic Forest has been directly in the path of agricultural and urban growth for 500 years, and it currently contains 130 million people.

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