Over the last few months, we have spoken a lot on our social media about Operation Ocelot's work within Brazil's Atlantic Forest Reserve. You may wonder what is the Atlantic Forest Reserve, why is it important? Well, read on to find out more.
What is the Atlantic Forest Reserve?
Brazil's Atlantic Forest South-East Reserves is 470,000 ha of paradise! From mountains and waterfalls to coastal islands and estuary, endemic species can be found around every corner.
However, all this is under threat. The Atlantic Forest Reserve is one of the most threatened areas of the Rainforest in Brazil and has lost more than 80% of its tree cover (Calmon, Oliveira and Biderman, 2019). Here, logging (and hunting) is causing a huge threat to wildlife and habitats (World Land Trust, 2022).
The Atlantic Forest Reserve is found along the Atlantic coast, encompassing São Paulo and Rio. The UNESCO World Heritage Site contains 25 protected areas to ensure the future of the wealth of biodiversity and history of the Atlantic forests (UNESCO, ND).
Who calls it home?
Did you know? 7% of the world's plants and 5% of vertebrate species reside in the Atlantic forest (Hancock, 2021).
The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund reports the below level of biodiversity:
930 species of bird
260 species of mammals
300 species of reptile
450 species of amphibians
40% of vascular plant species are endemic
What's more, 145 million humans live within the Brazilian cities encompassed by the forest (Calmon, Oliveira and Biderman, 2019).
Why is it important?
So far, we have established what the Atlantic Forest is, the issues it is facing and who lives there, but why should we be working to save it?
The simple answer would be to protect the habitats and lives of the species that live there; however, this is only part of the answer.
Preventing deforestation ensures clean air - filtering the pollution from human activity in the cities - and keeps the surrounding water clean (Hancock, 2021). Deforestation speeds up climate change - it contributes to 15-20% of all annual greenhouse gas emissions (Herzog, 2009). Forests play an important role in the water cycle intercepting and regulating rainfall, helping to prevent flooding.
The Atlantic Forest is home to two rare timbers - Brazil-wood (Caesalpinia echinata) and Brazilian rosewood (Dalbergia nigra) (CEPF, 2022). Industry and environment can live in harmony - agroforestry helps produce food while storing carbon and encouraging the planting of native trees that improves biodiversity, soil and water while sustaining the timber industry for future generations (Calmon, Oliveira and Biderman, 2019).
Without Rainforests like The Atlantic Forest, we wouldn't have fruit, nuts, spices, medicine from plants and animals, wood for furniture, oxygen, chewing gum, products that make varnish, soap and rubber.
Operation Ocelot is an initiative run by the World Land Trust and their patron Steve Backshall to help raise funds for Rainforest habitats in Brazil! The project supports the expansion of the Atlantic Forest Reserve by encouraging children (and adults) to measure their garden, playgroups or local greenspace and fundraise to protect the same amount of area in the Atlantic Forest.
What is ZooLab doing? ZooLab's team will be measuring their gardens to create their target and donating or fundraising for the same sized area in Brazil. On top of this, ZooLab is donating £5 per customer who books a Rainforest workshop between January - March to Operation Ocelot. So far we have raised £310 with 3 weeks to go.