The greatest treasure of our planet is in the Environment and the Atlantic Forest represents one of our huge resources. It’s not exactly a forest, it’s much more than that, and it’s a biological unit, a tropical-type forest biome, with a considerable extension covering a good part of Brazilian coast and also northeast of Argentina and east of Paraguay.
The biodiversity of the Atlantic Forest is very similar to Amazon Forest, since both are very similar physiognomically and in floral composition. By the way, there are theories that they have already formed a single forest and they still have a connection. The Atlantic Forest, specifically, is composed of other smaller native forests, namely: Dense Ombrophilous Forest; Mixed Ombrophilous Forest (also called Araucaria Forest); Open Ombrophilous Forest; Seasonal Semideciduous Forest and Seasonal Deciduous Forest; in addition to many valuable ecosystems such as mangroves, sandstone vegetation, altitude fields, inland swamps and forest entanglements, all elements responsible for the production and supply of water, climatic balance; slope protection, soil fertility; production of food, wood, fibers, oils, plants and medicinal waters. Finally, a heritage in every sense and a real canvas, such a perfect and beautiful landscape scenery!
There are, of course, some considerable differences in the diversity of each one of these small forests, in biomes and in endemism, because in each region there are species that live there by adapting better according to altitude and latitude, soil and climate. The fauna and flora are of an impressive variety, however it is possible to point out some species that are in abundance such as amphibians, reptiles, mammals (including some felines), fish, insects and birds, plant formation palms, bromeliads, hydrangeas and even orchids.
In Brazil Empire, Emperor Dom Pedro II adopted a pioneering action to save the forest, in 1861, when he ordered the reforestation of Tijuca National Park, in Rio de Janeiro, home to the largest urban forest in the world. At that time the forest was almost completely devastated, and the Emperor understood the importance of a forest, knew that it means protection from slopes against landslides, a more harmonious climate, protection of flora and fauna and their native species, and improvements in supply of water for the whole city. The action of Dom Pedro II made all the difference and it is today considered one of the greatest achievements in environmental recovery.
In fact, poor conservation and devastation, uncontrolled use and predatory activities contribute to the disappearance of many species, as natural habitats are exterminated. In addition, the Atlantic Forest is where indigenous peoples live up till the present day as the peoples Wassu, Pataxó, Tupiniquim, Gerén, Guarani, Krenak, Kaiowa, Nandeva, Terena, Kadiweu, Potiguara, Kaingang,guarani M’Bya e tangang. Forest is home.
The Atlantic Forest biome covers a total area of approximately 1,315,460 km2 that extends through 17 states of Brazil: Alagoas, Bahia, Ceará, Espírito Santo, Goiás, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Paraíba, Paraná, Pernambuco, Piauí, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Norte, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, São Paulo and Sergipe, and there are many natural parks scattered that are graced by the presence of the Atlantic Forest, we selected some that are among the most important in the country.
In Minas Gerais, the medicinal water parks of Caxambu and São Lourenço preserve much of the Atlantic Forest. Brazil owns around 15% of the planet’s drinking water and Caxambu Park is considered the largest hydro mineral resort in the world. São Lourenço Water Park is surrounded by forest remnants of the Atlantic Forest and it has native vegetation. In that same region of the Serra da Mantiqueira, the old road – Estrada Real – is full of stretches of Atlantic Forest.
In Rio de Janeiro, the State Park of Serra da Tiririca constitutes an area of archaeological sites and has been elevated to the status of the Atlantic Forest biosphere heritage, since 300 species of plants have been cataloged there including palmito – jussara and Pau -Brazil; and rare animals, exotic species from the forest, some of them threatened with extinction. The Municipal Natural Park of Marapendi is responsible for protecting native ecosystems of mangrove and restinga, an area that has become an environmental protection area to conserve the Atlantic Forest. There are a diversity of extremely rich native fauna and flora including yellow-faced alligators, crabs, snakes, opossums, capybaras, agoutis, jacupembas and sloths.
The Bosque da Barra Municipal Natural Park is also considered a piece of the Atlantic Forest and is part of the Atlantic Forest Biosphere Reserve according to UNESCO. The place has several species of insects and animals already at risk of extinction. There are 113 species of birds registered, corresponding to about 20% of the entire avifauna of the municipality, with the presence of the endemic species of the Atlantic Forest, Ramphocelus bresilius, the Parides ascanius butterfly, the mico-star, callithrix jacchus, possel didelphis marsupialis, cerdocyon thous, procyon cancrivorus and otter longicaudis.
In Sergipe, we can highlight the São Francisco Canyon National Park and the Xingó Environmental Protection Area, both shelter the Atlantic Forest and where the caatinga biome is located (exclusively Brazilian biome and threatened with extinction).
Efforts have been made by the government and some entities in order to preserve all this forest that is the greatest good of mankind along with the Amazon Forest. However, the difficulties are enormous because not all people seem to understand the urgency and relevance of these action for the survival of all human beings.
There are many ways to change the landscape of devastation and achieve excellent levels of nature preservation with the self-sufficient architecture, the architecture of intelligent future. It´s time to make cities more active in the conservation of nature and effectively lead the population to think about solutions to restore of the environment. It helps us, it helps the planet.
May, what a special month in which we celebrate the day of the Atlantic Forest (27), the day of biodiversity (22) and the day of the field (05). What about planting the idea of making cities greener? Will you join us?
All pictures by Clarissa Xavier Machado.