The Discovery Coast Atlantic Forest Reserves, in the states of Bahia and Espírito Santo, consist of eight separate protected areas containing 112,000 ha of Atlantic forest and associated shrub (restingas). The rainforests of Brazil’s Atlantic coast are the world’s richest in terms of biodiversity. The site contains a distinct range of species with a high level of endemism and reveals a pattern of evolution that is not only of great scientific interest but is also of importance for conservation.
Discovery Coast Atlantic Forest Reserves
Justification for Inscription
Criterion (ix): The Brazilian Discovery Coast includes a number of areas containing the best and largest remaining examples of Atlantic forest in the northeast region of Brazil and contains high numbers of rare and endemic species.
Criterion (x): The site displays the biological richness and evolutionary history of the few remaining areas of Atlantic forest of northeast Brazil. The site reveals a pattern of evolution of great interest to science and importance for conservation. The fact that only these few scattered remnants of a once vast forest remain, make them an irreplaceable part of the world’s forest heritage.
The Discovery Coast Atlantic Forest Reserves consist of eight separate protected areas containing 112,000 ha of Atlantic forest and associated shrub (restingas). The rainforests of Brazil's Atlantic coast are the world's richest in terms of biodiversity. The site contains a distinct range of species with a high level of endemism and reveals a pattern of evolution that is not only of great scientific interest but is also of importance for conservation.
A limestone plateau with tabular hills (sierras) covers much of the site, forming a line of white or reddish cliffs near the sea. Sediments and sands from river and sea deposits form an irregular coastal stretch of sand plains and dunes, and accumulate in large river valleys. The highest formations of the Discovery Coast are the round-shaped hills of volcanic and metamorphic origin that are concentrated in the south, the most famous being Monte Pascoal.
The rainforests of southern Bahia and northern Espirito Santo states are considered the world's richest in terms of the number of species of tree per hectare. Until 300 m, the principle vegetation type is highly diverse primary tropical moist broadleaf forest with tall canopy trees. The area contains perhaps the largest number of trees of Pau Brasil left on Earth. In dryer sectors, piaçaba palm-tree is frequent and lianas become more abundant. Along the river valleys, there is a gallery forest with jatoba, jussara and araça, as well as typical species from surrounding moist forests and areas of restingas. There are areas rich in epiphytes and parasitic plants that have a dense shrub layer. On sand coastal soils, there is restinga vegetation ranging from humid prairies and shrubs to low forests.
The fauna is relatively poorly known. Ecological heterogeneity makes precise definition of habitats and local fauna difficult. With the exception of some ecosystems such as wetlands, many organisms are characterized by selecting areas of vegetation gradients and ecotones. Best known groups are birds and primates. Some species present, which are endemic to the Atlantic forest, include maned sloth, thin-spined porcupine, jaguar and Geoffroy's tufted-ear marmoset. Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC