The Serra do Mar is a coastal system of mountain ranges and escarpments in southeastern Brazil. Serra do Mar State Park and the Serra do Mar Ecological Corridor encompass and protect one of the largest remaining areas of continuous Atlantic Forest.
Serra do Mar
The Serra do Mar ("Mountain Range of the Sea") is a 1,500 km (930 mi) long system of coastal mountain ranges, and escarpments in southeastern Brazil that runs parallel to the Atlantic coast, from the northern part of Río Grande do Sul in the south into Espírito Santo in the north.
Also known as the "Brazilian Cordillera" due to its prolonged mountainous formation, Serra do Mar rises straight from the sea, forming the coastline in many places. The sharpness of its peaks and the dense rainforest combine to create an almost impenetrable barrier from the Brazilian plateau to the sea.
The range extends to some large islands near the coastline, such as Ilhabela and Ilha Anchieta. With an altitude of 2,255 m (7,398 ft), Pico da Caledônia in Rio de Janeiro is among the highest points in Serra do Mar.
The rest of the mountain system comprises such ranges as Serra da Mantiqueira and Serra dos Órgãos in Rio de Janeiro, the Espinhaço and Aimorés mountains of Minas Gerais, and the Diamantina Upland of Bahia. Sections of these highlands are also known separately or collectively as Serra Geral.
The Serra do Mar mountain range system is discontinuous in several places and is given individual names, such as:
Serra de Bocaina
Serra da Prata
Serra de Paranapiacaba
Serra do Indaiá
Serra do Itajaí
Serro do Tabuleiro
Until the railroads passed over it in the 19th century, Serra do Mar historically formed a significant barrier to Brazil's vast interior development. The escarpment was initially covered by dense tropical and subtropical forests, of which only traces remain.
Today, the Serra do Mar coastal forests ecoregion defines the ecosystem, with montane forests of Bromeliaceae, Myrtaceae, Melastomataceae, and Lauraceae species.
Geologically, the range belongs to the massive crystalline rock platform that forms eastern South America. Tectonically, it is very stable. Most of the elevations of Serra do Mar were formed about 60 million years ago.
The entire escarpment extends for about 2,600 km (1,600 mi) northward to Bahia but is known as Serra do Mar only in the southern section. It forms the boundary between the sea-level littoral and the inland plateau (planalto), with a mean altitude of 500 - 1,300 m (1,600 - 4,300 ft).
Map depicting the approximate location of the Serra do Mar coastal range
Serro do Mar State Park
Serra do Mar State Park is located in São Paulo, Brazil. It covers 315,000 ha (780,000 acres) of the Serra do Mar mountain range and is one of the largest remaining areas of continuous Atlantic Forest. It is part of the Bocaina Mosaic, created in 2006.
The Park stretches from the border of Rio de Janeiro to Itariri in the southern part of São Paulo. It connects the Serra do Mar forests of Rio de Janeiro to the Vale do Ribeira and Paraná. The escarpments of the Park dominate the coast of São Paulo.
The State Park contains some traditional communities of quilombolas, Amerindians, caipiras, and caiçaras.
Serra do Mar Ecological Corridor
The Serra do Mar Ecological Corridor is an extensive collection of protected areas in Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, São Paulo, and Paraná in southern Brazil that form an ecological corridor connecting regions of the Atlantic Forest.
The ecological corridor covers about 12,600,000 ha (31,000,000 acres). It encompasses some of Brazil's most densely populated areas, with several essential fragments of the Atlantic Forest. As a result, the corridor is one of the areas with the richest biodiversity in the Atlantic Forest.