A report on the state of conservation of the property was submitted by the State Party on 30 March 2012, providing a detailed discussion of actions undertaken to date to re-establish the protection status of the area of Chapada dos VeadeirosNational Park. On 12 April 2012, the State Party sent a letter to the World Heritage Centre inviting a joint World Heritage Centre / IUCN advisory mission to the property to assess issues related to its legal framework, and to provide assistance to the possible revision of its boundaries in view of an expansion.
a) Loss of the protection status of 72% of Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park
Chapada dos VeadeirosNational Park had been expanded by Federal Decree in September 2001 and the Park, with its expanded boundaries, was inscribed onto the World Heritage List in December 2001 as one of two components of this serial property. However, in 2003 a judicial review led to the cancellation of the Park expansion decree, resulting in a large portion of this property’s area (170,455 hectares) no longer benefiting from National Park status, and seriously undermining its integrity. In its report, the State Party indicates that despite having lost National Park status since 2003, no dangers of a scale capable of threatening the Outstanding Universal Value are currently noted in these lands.
In a letter to the World Heritage Centre dated 27 April 2011, the State Party had indicated that it would re-start the necessary legal procedures for a new Decree re-establishing the protection status for the affected lands, and that these would be finalized by March 2012. Contrary to the statement in this letter, the State Party now cautions that a strict return to the original National Park boundaries at the time of inscription is no longer an option due to man-made processes already underway since 2001, which in fact served as the basis for the legal actions that led to the repeal of the 2001 expansion decree.
A multi-faceted approach at achieving a sufficiently rigorous conservation status for the majority of lands that have lost their National Park status is now being proposed. The State Party suggests that it may even go beyond the original surface area to include yet more protected lands as part of the property. To do so, it focuses on several existing land use policies, programmes and/or designations, though none of these appear to systematically grant the property the same level of protection as national park status. These include:
i) The reliance on the fact that the property lies wholly within the Pouso Alto Environmental Protection Area. This conservation status falls within IUCN protected area management category V, which is considered suitable for landscape protection and sustainable development. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that this category is not normally sufficient to guarantee the integrity of World Heritage properties inscribed under criteria ix and x;
ii) The voluntary creation of federal private natural heritage reserves on the part of private landowners. There are currently 16 such private reserves in the region of the property, ranging between 1.4 and 8,730 hectares for a total surface area of 20,756 hectares. No information is provided on the level of biodiversity protection such reserves provide;
iii) The leveraging of ecological corridors in which the property is located. These corridors are formal public policy and can be used to support conservation objectives, though the State Party does not provide any details on how this might relate to the integrity of the property;
iv) The application of biosphere reserve principles of conservation – given that the lands in question are within the vastly larger Cerrado Biosphere Reserve, at over 29,000,000 hectares. No details are provided on how this status is contributing to the integrity of the property;
v) Reliance on the low intensity land use of the Kalugos Quilombo territory, which is designated for the Quilombos people, though no clear relation between the location of this territory and that of the property is indicated.
The State Party has expressed its intent to assemble a mosaic of new conservation units within different management categories which together would re-establish, if not the identical 2001 boundaries of the expanded National Park, then at least an equivalent or larger area. The State Party anticipates that as a whole, this mosaic would meet the criteria for the original inscription of the property on the World Heritage List. Given the complexity of the question, the State Party notes that the final proposal for the mosaic protected area is expected to be referred to the Ministry of the Environment by June 2013 after which the Ministry would likely have to consider it and eventually carry out the necessary steps for eventual approval.
b) Status of attributes that sustain Outstanding Universal Value
The State Party’s report includes an assessment of the state of conservation of those lands that were removed from the National Park in 2003. The assessment is based on extensive field review of those lands no longer in the National Park, and of those lands which may be proposed to be included in an eventual re-nomination. It concludes that the attributes of Outstanding Universal Value of these lands remain robust, but it does note that the main threats to the property consist of wildfires, hunting, illegal deforestation and selective illegal extraction of timber.