Brazilian forest area has been saved to celebrate the Rio Olympics

A tract of Atlantic Forest near Rio de Janeiro has been rescued and renamed the Olympic Forest Reserve to commemorate Great Britain’s most successful Olympics yet.

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Saffron toucanet

The world’s attention has been focused on Rio during the 2016 Olympic Games, but although many of Britain’s athletes have now returned to UK shores, their success at the Olympics leaves behind an important legacy. 

Thanks to the World Land Trust’s (WLT) Olympic Forest Appeal, 221 acres of Atlantic Forest has been saved from deforestation, safeguarding the forest's rich array of flora and fauna, which boasts a greater biodiversity than even the Amazon Rainforest.

With over 90 percent of forest already lost, the Atlantic Forest is one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world.

Under the protection of WLT and its conservation partner in Brazil, Reserva Ecológica de Guapiaçu (REGUA), the Olympic Forest Reserve will serve as a sanctuary for rare species such as the saffron toucanet (pictured above), which is found only in the Atlantic Forest.

Olympic gold medal rower Helen Glover has been championing the Olympic Forest Appeal in the run up to the Games, alongside wildlife presenter and Patron of World Land Trust (WLT) Steve Backshall.

Commenting on the success of the appeal, Backshall said: “Not only have we reached our £40,000 target, but we’ve surpassed it and it means that a vast area of Atlantic Forest in Brazil can be protected for future generations, and all the biodiversity – all the life that relies on it can be protected too.”

The surplus amount raised will be used to fund the salary of a REGUA ranger, who will protect the habitat from illegal hunting and logging. 

Read more wildlife news stories in BBC Wildlife Magazine

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