1.         Iguaçu National Park (Brazil) (N 355)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1986

Criteria  (vii)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger   1999-2001

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/355/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/355/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

March 1999: IUCN mission 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/355/

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1999

Summary of previous deliberations: Since 1997, the Bureau and the Committee have repeatedly called for the permanent closure of the18 km road traversing this Park which had been illegally opened by local people. At its twenty-second session (June, 1998) the Bureau requested a Centre/IUCN mission to review the situation and to assist the State Party to mitigate threats to the Park. The Bureau also asked the State Party to provide, by 15 September 1998: (i) a copy of the revitalisation programme and a time frame for the rehabilitation of damaged areas; and (ii) a detailed report on the state of conservation of the site and actions taken with regard to the permanent closure of the road. The twenty-second extraordinary session of the Bureau (November 1998) was informed of a new threat to Iguacu’s integrity, arising from plans to fill a hydropower reservoir in Southwest Brazil that would divert a considerable volume of Iguacu’s waters for seven to eight weeks per year. The Bureau reiterated its request that the State Party provides information on items (i) and (ii) above and on plans for the hydropower reservoir project. The Bureau noted that a possible Centre/IUCN mission to the site in March 1999 should determine whether the site needs to be included in the List of World Heritage in Danger.

New information: An IUCN/UNESCO mission visited the site in March 1999 and discussed the state of conservation of the site with all the stakeholders including local residents and local Government officials. The mission identified the following four issues as most threatening to the integrity of this site:

IUCN has recommended that, while the Colon Road remains open, the Iguacu National Park should be included in the List of World Heritage in Danger. At a meeting with the Minister for the Environment on 7 April 1999, the Director-General of UNESCO and Centre staff reiterated the Committee’s request for the permanent closure of the road.

Action Required

The Bureau may wish to request the State Party to immediately close the Colon Road and initiate a recovery plan to increase canopy closure and re-vegetation of ground cover and stabilise soils and control erosion. In the absence of satisfactory progress with regard to the permanent closure of the road and the implementation of the recovery plan by the time it meets for its twenty-third extraordinary session (Marrakesh, Morocco, 26 - 27 November 1999), the Bureau may recommend that the Committee include Iguacu National Park in the List of World Heritage in Danger. Furthermore, the Bureau may request the State Party to: (i) immediately halt helicopter flights pending a thorough evaluation of their impacts on the fauna, particularly the avifauna; and (ii) provide a copy of the new management plan to IUCN for review in order to enable an assessment of the effectiveness of the plan to address prevailing threats to the integrity of the site.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1999

Previous deliberations:         

Twenty-second session of the Committee – page 94 of Annex IV

Twenty-third ordinary session of the Bureau – Chapter IV. 27

 

New information: IUCN sent a mission to this site in March 1999 and this was reported at the July 1999 Bureau session.  During this mission discussions were held with representatives of IBAMA (Brazilian National Parks Service), local residents, local Government representatives, State Government representatives (including the Governor of the State of Paraná), and Federal representatives (including the Minister for Environment).  The mission report deals with four issues relevant to the integrity of this World Heritage site:

(1) The Colon Road: Local people illegally reopened this road in May 1997.  The Federal Public Prosecutor is presently prosecuting both the local communities of the area for reopening the road and the Federal and State agencies for not enforcing closure of the road.  The majority of the local people support the continued use of the road as it shortens the distance between communities on the northern and southern sides of the park by some 130 km.  The road traverses the park from north to south dividing it in two.  The road also breaks the forest canopy for the majority of the road's length (17.5 km).  It is important to keep in mind that this site was inscribed in the World Heritage List, not only for the Iguacu Falls, but also for the significant biodiversity values of the large expanse of rainforest that it contains.  IUCN notes that the road has destroyed part of the forest and damaged other parts of the site, has interrupted wildlife movement between the eastern and western sections of the Park and most importantly, has severely impacted on the site’s World Heritage values.  In particular, concern has been expressed by research and academic authorities that the preservation of the jaguar is threatened with extinction in the region, as its habitat has been dissected by this road.  The road is also leading to an increase in siltation of the creeks and rivers and alters drainage patterns, further exacerbating the impact on World Heritage values.  In addition, the road has opened up the Park for the illegal extraction of timber and poaching.   IUCN has received information on the process to close the Colon road, as recommended by the IUCN mission to this site.  A process of negotiation on this, led by IBAMA, is underway with representatives of the State of Paraná.  Due to the political and social pressures related to this road, it is not easy to find a short-term solution for its closure because it could create negative reactions from the local people against this World Heritage site, thus potentially leading to new threats to its integrity.

(2) Helicopter Flights:  Commercial helicopter flights began in 1972, originating from both Brazil and Argentina.  Following recommendations from the World Heritage Committee, flights from the Argentinean side ceased in 1994, but have continued on the Brazilian side.  In 1996, the level of concern was such that the Presidents of Brazil and Argentina met to discuss the issue.  In 1997 Brazil decided to recommence helicopter flights subject to specific flight conditions.  A recent study by the Environment Institute of Paraná concentrated largely on the impact of the helicopters on the tourists' experience, noting that, for most visitors, the flights are interfering with their enjoyment of the Falls.  However, this study only superficially investigated the impacts on fauna.

(3) Dams on Iguacu River: The Salto Caixas Dam was recently built on the Iguacu River.  It is well upstream of the National Park and at present there is no evidence of any impact on the World Heritage values of the Park.  The proposal for another dam, Capanema, has been abandoned, as it would involve a direct impact on Iguacu National Park.

(4) Management Plan: A new Management Plan for Iguacu National Park is due to be completed in 1999.  This management plan will aim to address the above-mentioned problems.  To ensure the integrity of this site it is clear that management of both the Iguacu National Park (Brazil) and the Iguazu National Park (Argentina), both of which are on the World Heritage List, would benefit considerably from closer liaison and co-ordination between their respective management authorities.  During the mission this was discussed with senior Brazilian and Argentinean officials and initial responses were positive.

 

The twenty-third session of the Bureau requested the State Party to immediately close the Colon Road and initiate a recovery plan to increase canopy closure and re-vegetation of ground cover and stabilise soils and control erosion.  Furthermore, the Bureau requested the State Party to: (i) immediately halt helicopter flights pending a thorough evaluation of their impact on the fauna, particularly the avifauna; and (ii) provide a copy of the new management plan to IUCN for review to enable an assessment of the effectiveness of the plan to address prevailing threats to the integrity of the site.  As at 1 October, no information has been received from the State Party.  

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 23 BUR IV.B.27

Since 1997, the Bureau and the Committee have repeatedly called for the permanent closure of the 18 km road traversing this Park which had been illegally opened by local people. At its twenty-second session, the Bureau requested a Centre/IUCN mission to review the situation and to assist the State Party to mitigate threats to the Park. The twenty-second extraordinary session of the Bureau (November 1998) was informed of a new threat to Iguacu’s integrity, arising from plans to fill a hydropower reservoir in southwest Brazil that would divert a considerable volume of Iguacu’s waters for seven to eight weeks per year.  The Bureau reiterated its request that the State Party provides information on the two above-mentioned items and on plans for the hydropower reservoir project. The Bureau noted that a possible Centre/IUCN mission to the site in March 1999 should determine whether the site needs to be included in the List of World Heritage in Danger.

An IUCN/UNESCO mission visited the site in March 1999 and discussed the state of conservation with all the stakeholders including local residents and local Government officials. The mission identified the following four issues as most threatening to the integrity of this site:

(1) The Colon Road which was illegally reopened in May 1997. The Federal Public Prosecutor is presently prosecuting the local communities of the area for reopening the road and the Federal and State agencies for not enforcing the closure of the road. The majority of the local people favour the continued use of the road as it shortens the distance between communities in the northern and southern sides of the Park by about 130 km. The north-south road dissects the Park into two and has resulted in the opening of the forest canopy along most of its length. The road has led to the destruction of parts of the forest, interrupted wildlife movement between the eastern and western sections of the Park and has severely impacted the site’s World Heritage value. Research and academic personnel have expressed particular concerns regarding the preservation of the jaguar that may be threatened with extinction in the region, as its habitat has been dissected by this road. The road is leading to an increase in silting of the creeks and rivers and alteration of drainage patterns, further exacerbating the impact on World Heritage values. The road has also opened up the Park for illegal extraction of timber and poaching.

(2) Helicopter flights originating from Brazil and Argentina began in 1972. Following recommendations from the World Heritage Committee in 1994, flights on the Argentinean side have been stopped, but have continued on the Brazilian side. In 1996, growing concern on this matter led to a discussion between the Presidents of Brazil and Argentina. In 1997 Brazil, in agreement with Argentina, recommenced helicopter flights which are restricted to Brazilian territory, operate between 0900 and 1700 hours, and maintain a minimum altitude of 1600 feet (i.e. 500 metres). The heliport was to be relocated from a site adjacent to the Falls to outside of the National Park. But a suitable location for the heliport outside of the Park has yet to be found and up to 20-25 flights per day, each of 7 to 11 minutes, continue to originate from within the Park. A study of the Environment Institute of Paraná has found that most visitors believe that the flights are interfering with their enjoyment of the Falls. The study however did not investigate the impact of the flights on the fauna.

(3) The Salto Caixas Dam on the Iguacu River was built recently but is located upstream of the National Park and at present there is no evidence of any impact on the World Heritage values of the Park. The proposal for another dam, Capanema, has been abandoned, as it would have had a direct impact on the Park.  The new Management Plan for Iguacu National Park was to be completed by May 1999.

This management plan will aim to address all of the above-mentioned problems. It is clear that the management of the two World Heritage sites, i.e. Iguacu National Park (Brazil) and the Iguazu National Park (Argentina) would benefit from closer liaison and co-ordination between their respective management authorities. IUCN stressed that sufficient time should be given to the State Parties for implementing the recommendations of the mission.

The Centre informed the Bureau that the Ministers of both the Environment and Tourism, and the Governor of the State of Parana met on 13 April 1999 and agreed that the situation of the Colon Road is not acceptable. They defined a number of measures to solve this problem, including the recuperation of degraded areas, and consultation with local authorities to ensure a peaceful solution to close the road. The Observer of Brazil informed the Bureau that the new management plan has been finalized and recommends the closure of the illegal road and evaluates damage and establishes a series of recommendations for the restoration of this area. The plan also defines a new zoning of the Park.  A dialogue with the Argentinian National Park Service towards a common programme of research, monitoring and protection of the two World Heritage sites has been started.

The Bureau requested the State Party to immediately close the Colon Road and initiate a recovery plan to increase canopy closure and re-vegetation of ground cover and stabilise soils and control erosion. In the absence of satisfactory progress with regard to the permanent closure of the road and the implementation of the recovery plan by the time of its twenty-third extraordinary session, the Bureau may recommend that the Committee include Iguacu National Park in the List of World Heritage in Danger. Furthermore, the Bureau requested the State Party to: (i) immediately halt helicopter flights pending a thorough evaluation of their impact on the fauna, particularly the avifauna; and (ii) provide a copy of the new management plan to IUCN for review to enable an assessment of the effectiveness of the plan to address prevailing threats to the integrity of the site.

Decision Adopted: 23 COM VIII.1-2

VIII.1 Following the review of the state of conservation reports and at the recommendation of the Bureau, the Committee decided to inscribe the following natural and cultural properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:

VIII.2 The Committee did not recommend the deletion of properties from the List of World Heritage in Danger.

 

Decision Adopted: 23 COM X.B.20

X.20 Iguaçu National Park (Brazil)

The Committee noted that an IUCN/UNESCO mission was carried out to this site in March 1999 and that the results were presented to the July 1999 Bureau session. The mission report dealt with four issues relevant to the integrity of this World Heritage site: The Colon road, helicopter flights, dams on the Iguaçu River, and management planning. The Committee noted that the Bureau, at its twenty-third extraordinary session, examined the issues and progress made and recommended inscription of this property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The Committee recognized the efforts made by the State Party to implement the recommendations of the mission. However, in the absence of satisfactory progress with regard to the permanent closure of the road and the implementation of the recovery plan, the Committee decided to include Iguacu National Park in the List of World Heritage in Danger.