Saving the Mata Atlântica
The Mata Atlântica (Atlantic Forest) spans most of the eastern coast of Brazil and extends into Paraguay and Argentina. Today only 8% of its original size remains. Yet it harbors many species of plants and animals found nowhere else on the planet. Researchers have catalogued over 23,000 plant species, 40% of which exist only here.
More ancient than the Amazon Forest, the Mata Atlântica is home to at least 264 mammal species, approximately 1,000 birds, over 450 amphibians, and 350 freshwater fish. Most of Brazil’s endangered species are found here; these include the lion tamarin, the blonde capuchin, the maned sloth, the Brazilian arboreal mouse, the thin-spined porcupine, the Brazilian snake-necked turtle…and many, many others. Almost miraculously, new species continue to be found.
The Mata Atlântica is also home to two indigenous peoples, the Tupi and the Guarani. These Native Americans live in remote and fragmented areas within this forest. It is estimated that there were as many as one million Tupi when European settlers first arrived in Brazil; today there are fewer than 140,000 Tupi and Guarini in all South America.
Many issues cloud the future of the Mata Atlântica. Besides urban sprawl, forest clearing for cattle ranching and big crops (soy, sugar cane, tobacco, and biofuel crops) remains a large threat to this biodiversity haven. Its survival requires a concerted and decisive effort by all stakeholders: individuals, government, nonprofit organizations, and private businesses.
Our 2021 pledge goes to SOS Mata Atlântica. We invite you to join the cause.