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From hotspot to hopespot: An opportunity for the Brazilian Atlantic Forest

Rezende, C.L., Scarano, F.R., Assad, E.D., Joly, C.A., Metzger, J.P., Strassburg, B.B.N., Tabarelli, M., Fonseca, G.A., Mittermeier, R.A.
Perspectives in ecology and conservation 2018 v.16 no.4 pp. 208-214
biodiversity, climate change, compliance, debt, ecosystems, extinction, forests, indigenous species, land cover, landowners, laws and regulations, riparian areas, spatial data, sustainable development, vegetation cover, Brazil
New remote sensing data on vegetation cover and restoration opportunities bring hope to the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, one of the hottest of the 36 global biodiversity hotspots. Available estimates of remaining vegetation cover in the biome currently range from 11% to 16%. However, our new land-cover map, prepared at the highest resolution ever (5m), reveals a current vegetation cover of 28%, or 32 million hectares (Mha) of native vegetation. Simultaneously, we found 7.2Mha of degraded riparian areas, of which 5.2Mha at least must be restored before 2038 by landowners for legislation compliance. Restoring the existing legal debt could increase native vegetation cover in the Atlantic Forest up to 35%. Such effort, if well planned and implemented, could reduce extinction processes by increasing connectivity of vegetation remnants and rising total native cover to above the critical biodiversity threshold established for different taxonomic groups. If undertaken, this process can be adaptive to climate change and boost sustainable development in this most populous biome in Brazil, turning it into a hopespot.