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The Atlantic Forests of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina, extends from a tropical latitude in the states of Ceará and Río Grande do Norte on the northeast coast of Brazil, to a highly seasonal subtropical latitude in the southern state of Río Grande do Sul in Brazil. It extends over 1,713,535 square kilometers from the Atlantic Ocean westward to the interior over Brazil's coastal mountain range to the watershed of the Paraná River in eastern Paraguay and to Misiones Province of Argentina. In a worldwide ranking based on a comparative analysis of biodiversity data, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has identified the Global 200-the most outstanding ecoregions representing the full range of the Earth's diverse terrestrial, freshwater, and marine habitats. The Atlantic Forests, a Global 200 ecoregion, is actually a complex of 15 terrestrial ecoregions1 that span the Atlantic coast of Brazil, extending westward into eastern Paraguay and northeastern Argentina. The Atlantic Forests are among the most endangered rainforests on earth, with only 7.4% of their original forest cover remaining, and this is in a highly fragmented landscape. They have been ranked as one of the most biologically diverse forests of the world and they are also considered as a Biodiversity Hotspot by Conservation International.
The Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest ecoregion
The southwestern portion of the Atlantic Forest constitutes the Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest ecoregion. The original area of the Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest ecoregion is the largest (471,204 km2) of the 15 ecoregions of the Atlantic Forests Ecoregion Complex, extending from the western slopes of the Serra do Mar in Brazil to eastern Paraguay and the Misiones Province in Argentina. All this area was originally covered by a continuous subtropical semi-deciduous forest with a high diversity of plant species that formed different forest communities. Original (or originally) refers to the time when the area was mostly covered by pristine native forest vegetation. That time roughly corresponds to the late 15th and early 16th centuries, coinciding with the arrival of the first European immigrants and the beginning of the rapid process of transformation of the forest into agricultural land. Prior to this time, native people likely impacted the ecoregion as a whole to a relatively small or medium degree. Individual plant communities of the Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest ecoregion are characterized by different soil types and the dominant tree species. In the Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest, some of the typical communities include: palmito (Euterpe edulis) and palo rosa (Aspidosperma polyneuron) forests, bamboo forests (four species of bamboo are common in the ecoregion and are the dominant species in some areas), laurel forests (several species of trees within the genus Nectandra and Ocotea are common in this forest type). However, no detailed vegetation map exists for the entire ecoregion and there is not complete agreement on the nomenclature used for the different forest communities. This ecoregion has the largest remaining forest blocks of the Atlantic Forest, still containing the original set of large vertebrates, including top predators such as harpy eagles, crested eagles, jaguars, pumas, and ocelots, and large herbivores, such as tapirs, two species of brocket deer, and two species of peccaries. While these blocks represent an important conservation opportunity, they present the special challenge of crossing the borders of three countries with different cultures and different languages, a complex socio-economic and cultural diversity, and have experienced recent economic and social crises. More than 25 million people live in this ecoregion, 18.6 million in urban areas and 6.4 million in rural areas. Government decision making in the ecoregion is complex as well, with policies of importance to the Atlantic Forest developed and implemented by three federal governments, 18 provincial/state/department governments, and by 1,572 county governments (called municipalities in these countries).
Extracted and modified from:
Di Bitetti, M. S., G. Placci and L. A. Dietz. 2003. A biodiversity vision for the Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest Eco-region: designing a biodiversity conservation landscape and setting priorities for conservation action. World Wildlife Fund. Washington, D.C., USA. pp 154. (Download the PDF, 7.6 MB).