Alta Floresta is in the extreme North of Mato Grosso state, 870 km from Cuiabá near the border to Pará.    While Manaus, with its rich culture, and with a history of centuries of colonization & exploitation of natural resources, may be the most popular destination for tourism in the Brazilian Amazon, the city of  Alta Floresta with its pristine tributaries to the Amazon River stands at the edge of immense old-growth rainforests.  It is considered one of the 50 best locations for bird watching in the world.

Early in the 1970’s when the economy of the Amazon was dominated by the activity of Rubber Plantations, the entrepreneur Ariosto da Riva acquired an immense tract of land in the north of Mato Grosso, with the intent to colonize the area.   Dubbed by the journalist David Nasser as  “O Último Bandeirante” (the last colonist),  the septuagenarian left a secure life in São Paulo to become a pioneer in the Amazon.

Clearing roads through the forest was an arduous task, but with the strength and determination of families coming mostly from the South of Brazil, on May 19th, 1976 the municipality of Alta Floresta was founded as an agricultural community, and received political emancipation on the 18th of December of 1979.  Dubbed by the journalist David Nasser as  “O Último Bandeirante” (the last of the colonists).

On June 3rd 1980, when the president of Brazil, João Figueiredo, visited Alta Floresta he heard Riva say that 'Alta Floresta has the right to be proud to have been the city that in record time - less than four years - became legalized as a municipality, certainly the only city to do this in the history of the Republic'.

Shortly thereafter in the 1980’s, gold fever raged and mining came to predominate the local economy.  The population surged to over 100,000 and just as quickly diminished with the collapse of gold prices, as happened in many new municipalities in the Amazon region.

The first study of the Flora in the Cristalino area of Northern Mato Grosso was conducted by the Cristalino Foundation (link) and the Mato Grosso State University (UNEMAT) in partnership with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in the UK between 2008 and 2010.  The area consists of  dense Ombrophilous Forest (Humid Tropical Forest), open Ombrophilous Forest (Open Canopy Tropical Forest),  Semideciduous Tropical Forest and Cerrado.  Within the area there are more than eight types of vegetation creating a rare mosaic of micro ecosystems and biomes within a single region.  The floristic survey catalogued a total of 1,361 species of plants, five of which were new to science.


Each type of vegetation has plants typically associated with those soil, altitude and temperature. And these, in turn, are related to the kinds of birds, mammals, insects and other life-forms that typically dwell there, creating micro-ecosystems. For example, certain species of birds sometimes inhabit a specific area where food and shelter unique to that area is to be found, such as the campinarana and the deciduous forest.

The relief of the city can be divided into several geomorphological units: 

• Depression

• Amazônia Meridional;

• Apiacás-Sucunrudi Plateau;

• Dissecado da Amazônia Plateu;

• Norte de Mato Grosso Residual Plateaus. 

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