The Atlantic Forest (Mata Atlântica) extends along the Atlantic coast of Brazil from North to the South. It is a region of tropical and subtropical moist forest, tropical dry forest, tropical savannas, and mangrove forests which include forests of several variations:
– The coastal restingas – low forests that grow on stabilized coastal dunes.
– The Atlantic dry forests, which form a transition between the arid Caatinga to the northeast and the Cerrado savannas to the east.
– The coastal forests, also known as Atlantic moist forests – evergreen tropical forests with structures.
– The interior forests, also known as the Atlantic semi-deciduous forests where many trees drop their leaves during the dry season.
– The mountains and plateaus of southern Brazil moist forests – Serra do Mar
– Shrubby mountain savannas at the highest elevations.
The Atlantic Forest extends as a true tropical rainforest to latitudes as high as 24°S. This is because the trade winds produce precipitation throughout the southern winter. The Atlantic Forest is now designated a World Biosphere Reserve, which contains a large number of highly endangered species. It has been extensively cleared since colonial times, mainly for farming and for urban settlements. It is estimated to remain less than 10% of the original.