The region along Brazil's eastern coast offers a study in contrasts. Home to 120 million residents, this is where the heart of the Brazilian economy beats. At the same time, it's also where one of the world's five most important biodiversity hotspots is located, or at least what remains of the coastal rainforest Mata Atlantica. Caught between environmental concerns and unbridled economic growth, preserving the last remaining eight percent of the forest remains a huge challenge. The Pau Brasil National Park belongs to these last remnants of the forest that are worth protecting. The park boasts huge biodiversity. Almost 500 different tree species are found on a single hectare of forest. One of them is the rare Pau brasil tree. For centuries, its wood has been used to extract a pigment, a fact that's almost led to the tree's extinction. The last trees are now being protected in the national park and young saplings are planted. One thing is for sure – the forest can only be protected with the help of local communities. Environmental protection often provides a big hurdle for them as they can no longer fully cultivate their small pieces of land for farming purposes. But as compensation, they are now being paid for their environmental services such as protecting forest areas or drinking water sources.
A film by Roberto Manhaes Reis