1.         IguaƧu 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

Total amount granted to the property: Approximately USD 50,000 under the Brazilian World Heritage Biodiversity Programme for fire fighting planning.

Previous monitoring missions

March 1999: IUCN mission; April 2008: World Heritage Centre / IUCN reactive monitoring mission.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Proposed development of hydropower dams;

b) Pressure to re-open an illegal road;

c) Illegal logging and hunting;

d) Uncoordinated developments;

e) Lack of transboundary cooperation;

f) Lack of sustainable financing;

g) Problems associated with public use;

h) Lack of a comprehensive public use plan.

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2012

A succinct state of conservation report was provided to the World Heritage Centre by the State Party on 4 May 2012, as requested by Decision 34 COM 7B.31 (Brasilia, 2010). The information presented below in this report is gathered from the state of conservation report provided by Brazil, as well as the report submitted by the State Party of Argentina on 31 January 2012, which was also asked to report on joint activities with the State Party of Brazil in regards to the Iguazu National Park World Heritage property. A draft retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value was sent to the World Heritage Centre in June 2011 and is currently being reviewed by IUCN. 

a) Transboundary cooperation and coordination of management

Decision 34 COM 7B.31 invited the submission of a signed agreement between the States Parties of Brazil and Argentina on the joint management of Iguaçu National Park (Brazil) and Iguazu National Park (Argentina). The State Party reported in 2010 that such an agreement was soon to be finalized. Similarly, the Committee requested both States Parties (Decision 34 COM 7B.30 in the case of Argentina) to keep it informed on progress regarding the joint revision of both properties’ Management Plans. The State Party of Brazil provided a copy of a 2008 bi-national addendum to an existing 1996 bi-national cooperation agreement, entitled “Protected Area Management Capacity Development”, signed by the respective Ministers of Foreign Affairs in February 2008. The addendum is not specific to the Iguaçu / Iguazu cooperation, but a generic one for both national protected area systems, and is not the agreement indicated in its 2010 state of conservation report. The State Party indicates that under this addendum, meetings were held between the respective World Heritage property management agencies in 2010, however no information is provided on the objectives or outputs of these meetings. The state of conservation report from the State Party of Argentina does not mention these meetings, or the agreement of 2008. Based on the information provided, it is clear that no inter-governmental framework specific to these properties has yet been developed, and that cooperation remains tentative.

b) Hydroelectric dams and additional infrastructure plans

The State Party reports that it has not yet been able to arrive at any conclusions regarding the variations of water levels on aesthetic values and on biodiversity. However, it states that cooperation with the national operator of hydroelectric dams has allowed for a reduction in the more extreme variations in the water flow. This information is corroborated by the results of the detailed report provided by the State Party of Argentina. 

The State Party reports that it has ruled out the installation of a heliport within the property’s boundaries, and that the old heliport has been closed and is now overrun with vegetation.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall that at the Committee’s 31st session (Christchurch, 2007) the State Party had announced its decision to deny authorization for the construction of the proposed Baixo Iguaçu hydroelectric project in the vicinity and upstream of the property. They recall that the proposal for this project, as detailed in the State Party’s report to the Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006), included the construction of associated infrastructure within 150 meters of the property, earth works up to the very edge of the boundary, and the location of a drainage canal within property boundaries. Recent media reports suggest that the energy company Neoenergia, which was awarded a concession for this project in 2008, expects it to become operational by 2015. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN are seriously concerned about the potential (direct, indirect and cumulative) negative impacts from this project on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, and recall that the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for this project noted that 62% of fish species located at the dam site are endemic to the Iguaçu River, three of which are endangered. The World Heritage Centre wrote a letter to the State Party on 6 May 2009 to request more information on this issue. 

c) Development of a professional ranger corps

The 2008 reactive monitoring mission report called for the development of a qualified Ranger Corps for the Park specially trained in addressing conservation issues. The State Party reported in 2010 that efforts in this regard had met resistance from the military police and fire brigades which had been expected to participate. The Committee requested through Decision 34 COM 7B.31 that the State Party develop a qualified ranger corps specifically trained in conservation issues to address the ongoing threats to the property. No further progress is reported. 

d) Plans to build a road through the property

In 1999, the Committee inscribed the property onto the List of World Heritage in Danger due to the construction of the unauthorized Estrada do Colono road through the centre of the property. Swift action on the part of the State Party resulted in the cessation of road construction activities and the property was removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2001. Pressure remains from local interests to re-establish this road. As recently as late 2011, press reports indicate that a local congressman was holding public audiences to gather support for the re-commencement of this project and that a committee was formed within the state of Parana legislature to discuss options. 

e) Other conservation issues – invasive species

The State Party of Argentina signals in its report that the presence of aquatic introduced species represents a threat to the biodiversity and riparian ecosystems in IguazúNational Park in Argentina. A concerted effort by both States Parties will be required to address this threat at both properties.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN continue to emphasize the added management value that could be provided by a systematic coordination of management efforts on both sides of the Iguaçu / IguazuRiver. Though both States Parties have cooperated sporadically on punctual issues over the years, the conclusion of a formal framework agreement for a more systematic coordination of efforts remains elusive. Similarly, despite repeated requests to ensure the provision of a professionally trained ranger corps, the continued absence of any apparent progress should be addressed. 

Following renewed discussions at the State Government level over the possible re-opening of the Estrada do Colono road, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN stress that the Committee should remain concerned over the prospect of a road passing through the centre of the property, as such roads often lead to increased illegal logging, increased poaching and wildlife trade by facilitating human access to previously inaccessible areas. Such openings also facilitate the movement of invasive species into the property, disrupting the ecosystem. It is also important to consider that roads can present important barriers to the movement of some species, effectively resulting in the creation of two smaller parcels which would be less resilient to environmental stresses such as climate change. The State Party should be invited to closely monitor this situation and keep the World Heritage Centre informed of any changes.

The reports on the renewed consideration of the Baixo Iguaçu hydroelectric project are also a cause for serious concern. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN highlight that a decision to approve the project would constitute a clear potential danger to the property’s Outstanding Universal Value in line with paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines.

Decision Adopted: 36 COM 7B.29

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7B.Add,

2.  Recalling Decision 34 COM 7B.31, adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010) and recalling the recommendations of the 2008 reactive monitoring mission report;

3.  Regrets that little progress has been made in formalizing and operationalizing transboundary cooperation with the neighbouring Iguazu National Park World Heritage property in Argentina, despite having been informed by the State Party at its 34th session that the signing of such an agreement was imminent;

4.  Reiterates its request that the State Party of Brazil, in cooperation with the State Party of Argentina, formalize transboundary cooperation through appropriate international instruments, under which site based cooperation can be structured, implemented and monitored;

5.  Notes with serious concern that the Baixo Iguaçu hydroelectric project and the re-opening of the Estrada do Colono road through the property appear to again be actively considered, and reminds the State Party that, as per Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, any intention to undertake or authorize infrastructure works likely to impact the property’s Outstanding Universal Value should be communicated to the World Heritage Centre;

6.  Urges the State Party to make a permanent commitment not to authorize the construction of the Baixo Iguaçu hydroelectric project, or any other hydroelectric project that may be considered to have a negative impact on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value;

7.  Also notes the concerns raised by the State Party of Argentina over the incipient threats caused by alien species in the property on the Argentinean side, and calls upon both the States Parties of Brazil and Argentina to engage in a concerted effort to ensure that this issue receives the appropriate level of management attention;

8.  Requests the State Party to ensure the development of a qualified ranger corps specifically trained in conservation issues to address the on-going management challenges at the property;

9.  Also requests the State Party, in cooperation with the State Party of Argentina, to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014, a single joint report on the state of conservation of the property, including special consideration on advances in cooperation, and progress made in the creation of a stable and professional ranger corps, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014.