The Atlantic Forest Trail is a trail of more than 4,000 km that runs through the entire Serra do Mar and a stretch of the Serra Geral, between the states of Rio de Janeiro and Rio Grande do Sul. The trail has its Northern terminus in the Desengano State Park (RJ) and extends to the canyons of the Aparados da Serra National Park (RS).
Inspired by the North American Appalachian Trail, the trail crosses more than 130 protected areas, several traditional communities, and indigenous lands and joins historic trails, such as Caminho do Itupava (PR), Caminhos do Mar (SP), Caminho de Mambucaba (SP / RJ) and the Petrópolis-Teresópolis (RJ) crossing trail (RJ). Winding through mountains and beaches, the trail also passes through the landscapes of Santa Catarina Island (SC), Ilha do Mel (PR), Ilhabela (SP) and Ilha Grande (RJ).
The Atlantic Forest Trail is much more than a simple trail, it is an initiative that integrates mountaineering and ecotourism to promote local development and nature conservation in one of the most threatened biomes in the world.
The AFT mission is:
“Engage society in the conservation and recovery of the Atlantic Forest through outdoor activities and the connection of natural areas along the 4,000 km of trail, promoting inclusive socioeconomic development and appreciation of natural and cultural heritage.”
To achieve this mission the project is divided into four components:
1. Implementation of the Trail
The first component of the project is the implementation of the trail itself, including the definition of the route, training of volunteers and partners to manage and blaze the trail. The route of each section is defined in a participatory manner involving protected area managers, hikers, volunteers, and local partners. Training events, local meetings, and work parties are publicized in our social media (follow @caminhodamataatlantica).
3. Tourism partners
Component 3 aims to strengthen local initiatives, generating job and income opportunities and alternatives for more sustainable use of the Atlantic Forest. Partners who provide services to hikers receive publicity and support the maintenance of the trail and volunteer work. The advertising of tourism service providers along the AFT also helps hikers to plan their activities, with information on accommodation, transportation, guidance, and other forms of support for their adventure.
2. Engagement and volunteering
Component 2 involves volunteer engagement actions, including outreach, volunteers mobilization, and data recording. Voluntary activities are carried out by local groups, often in work parties, with the support of regional coordination.
4. Research and monitoring
The proposal of the Research and Conservation Component is produce and gather knowledge and information to conserve natural environments and promote connectivity along the trail, including identification of priority areas for the protection and recovery of ecological corridors and the state of nature conservation along the entire route. (See more in Research and Conservation)