||This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the Portuguese Wikipedia. (April 2013)|
The Tijuca Forest (Floresta da Tijuca in Portuguese) is a mountainous hand-planted rainforest in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is claimed to be the world's largest urban forest, covering some 32 km² (12.4 mi²), although there are sources assigning this title to the urban forest of Johannesburg, South Africa, where between 6 and 9.5 million trees were planted. The forest shares its name with bairros or neighborhoods of Tijuca and Barra da Tijuca that contain its entrances. It is a mountainous region, which encompasses the Tijuca Massif.
The word "Tijuca" from Tupi language which means marsh, and is a reference to the Tijuca Lagoon in the contemporary Barra da Tijuca. The mountains were called after it, as well the neighbourhood on the other side of it. It is a natural boundary that separates the West Zone of the city from the South, Central and North ones, and the North Zone from the South one.
The Tijuca Forest is home to hundreds of species of plants and wildlife, many threatened by extinction, found only in the Atlantic Rainforest (Mata Atlântica in Portuguese). After all the original forest had been destroyed to make way for coffee farms, Tijuca was replanted by Major Manuel Gomes Archer in the second half of the 19th century in a successful effort to protect Rio's water supply.
One favela named Mata Machado exists in the Tijuca Forest. Its inhabitants are mainly the descendants of those who migrated to the region in the 1930s to take part in the replanting effort. Though conditions have improved recently under the Favela-Bairro Project, Mata Machado still contributes to environmental degradation in the forest.
In 1961, Tijuca Forest was declared a National Park. The Forest contains a number of attractions, most notably the colossal sculpture of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado mountain. Other attractions include the Cascatinha Waterfall; the Mayrink Chapel, with murals painted by Cândido Portinari; the light pagoda-style gazebo at Vista Chinesa outlook; and the giant granite picnic table called the Mesa do Imperador. Among its impressive peaks is the Pedra da Gávea.
- Katlego Disemelo. (23 May 2013). "Is Johannesburg the world’s largest man-made forest? The claim is a myth". Africa Check. Retrieved 2013-09-30.
- Duarte & Magalhaes, as cited in Del Rio & Siembieda, p. 284
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