Atlantic Forest (Mata Atlantica)
The Atlantic Forest, or Mata Atlantica Biosphere Reserve, covers 14 states and spreads over more than 20,000 acres in Brazil. It’s formed of the remnants of a larger terrestrial ecosystem that once ran down the country's eastern coast, extending 3,000 km from Rio Grande do Norte to the Argentine border and as far inland as Paraguay. Located within the biosphere reserve are the urban parks of Tijuca National Park in Rio de Janeiro and Cantareira State Park in Sao Paulo.
The Atlantic Forest is known for its expanses of tropical rainforest and is home to extraordinary biodiversity and an especially high number of endemic species; roughly half of all the species of plant and animal life in the Atlantic Forest exist only within its boundaries.
At one time, Brazil’s Atlantic Rainforest was twice the size of Texas. But today, nearly 85 percent of this natural habitat has been clear-cut in response to the growing demand for local business, industry and trade. In light of these human impacts, the Atlantic Forest has become an important location for organizations working toward environmental conservation. In particular, there are numerous protected areas in the Atlantic Forest that offer visitors the opportunity for hiking, birding, rafting, and many other forms of environmentally sustainable tourism.