The Atlantic Forest stretches from northeast Brazil southward along the Atlantic coastline and inland into northeast Argentina and eastern Paraguay. It is a complex comprising 15 ecoregions, including tropical and subtropical rain forest, coastal forest, mangroves, and Araucaria moist forest.
Having evolved prior to and in isolation from the Amazon, its ecosystems are unique and have a high degree of endemism (i.e., species found nowhere else on the planet). It ranks among the world's top global biodiversity hot spots, housing one in 14 of the Earth’s total plant species and one in 20 of its vertebrate species.
The Atlantic Forest plays an important role in mitigating climate change. One hectare of forest in the Upper Paraná ecoregion can store an average of 223.5 tons of carbon; in the Serra do Mar ecoregion, the carbon stock per hectare is estimated between 320 and 460 tons, depending on elevation.
Once covering over 350 million acres, human activity has destroyed 88% of the original vegetation in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, making it one of the most endangered biomes in the world. Remaining tracts are highly fragmented; in the Upper Paraná for instance, 70% of these are under 250 acres in size.