The domains of the Atlantic Forest originally extended across the whole Brazilian eastern continental range towards inland in southeast and south of the Country, in an area of 1,110,182 km². It is considered a National Heritage by the Federal Constitution and presents a biodiversity eight times higher than that of the Amazon, constituting a refuge for many endemic species of fauna and flora, including endangered species. It is of the utmost importance for the conservation of water resources and climate balance in the most populated area of the country.
At present, in the state territory, there are only 7.5% of remaining areas of Atlantic Forest, with a high degree of fragmentation in relation to the original vegetation cover. The predominance of forest vegetation in RS supports various ecosystems as Araucaria Forests, and Seasonal Deciduous and Semi-Deciduous Forests in diversified relief.
In 1992, integrating national efforts for conservation of its remnants, RS State Government listed the Atlantic Forest and associated ecosystems. The remaining area of the Biome, 2,931,900 ha, also recognized by UNESCO in 1993 as Atlantic Forest Biosphere Reserve, corresponds to 17% of the state territory and differs somewhat from the official area of the Biome, including parts of all the extensive range of coast and lagoons of the State. Nowadays several initiatives of conservation and reclamation are being implemented in the State. More recently RS, by means of the State Secretariat of Environment, joined the Pact for the Restoration of the Atlantic Forest, formed by representatives of different segments as government institutions, environmental organizations, associations, companies and landowners. The Pact aims at the conservation of biodiversity and other attributes of the Atlantic Forest as the creation and implementation of Conservation Units, mosaics and corridors, promoting sustainable use of natural resources, effectiveness of inspection and control instruments, payment policies for environmental services, and registration of Legal Reserves (LRs) and Permanent Preservation Areas (PPAs).