Brazilian pines in the Atlantic Forest for Brazil's Independence Day
© Ralph Clevenger/Getty Image
A historic forest in Brazil
When explorers from Portugal landed on the shores of what is now Brazil, the Atlantic Forest, seen here, is what greeted them. At the start of the 16th century, the forest the Portuguese called Mata Atlântica, is estimated to have been nearly 400,000 square miles, possibly as much as 600,000. As Brazil celebrates its independence today, the Atlantic Forest is in peril, as 85 per cent of it has been destroyed to make room for agriculture and development.