The Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest area
The "selva parananese", and what undermines it
The "selva parananese" or Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest stretches across the borders of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. Today, most of the forest is found in the province of Misiones in northern Argentina. The area is one of WWF's 200 ecoregions of global importance. Argentina alone is home to 8 of these regions.
Species: What roams the land
The Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest is not only one of the most biologically important ecosystems in the world, it is also one of the most endangered rainforests. It houses an impressive variety of species - some 450 different trees can be found in only one hectare for example - and hosts animals and plants found nowhere else. Over 90% of all amphibians and 50% of all plants found in the forest are endemic, meaning they cannot be found anywhere else.
Diversity levels for a variety of taxa are comparable to other tropical forests regions harboring extraordinary diversity including the Western Arc forests of the Amazon and northern Borneo among others. Many of these unique species however - such as the tamarin, seven-coloured tanager or the largest cat in the Americas: the jaguar - are in imminent danger of extinction.
Threats: Species pushed to the brink...
The forest and its inhabitants face many threats. First and foremost, trees are being felled to make room for agriculture, livestock and roads. As a result, forest cover today is a mere fraction of what it used to be. It is also a lot more fragmented, meaning that wildlife has less space to move around and is in greater danger from hunting and trade.
Another pressing problem is the lack of data available about the ecosystem. Few studies have been carried out in the area and still very little is known about its species and their habits.
Given the high levels of local richness and endemism and the extensive loss of natural habitat - over 95 per cent in many areas - the probability of species extinctions is high for this ecoregion without intensive conservation efforts. Relatively extensive, but generally unprotected blocks of forest remain in the southern portion of the ecoregion, particularly in Argentina and Paraguay.