As requested in decision 30 COM 7B.31, the State Party of Brazil provided on 1 December 2006 an official report on the proposed hydroelectric dam project of Baixo Iguaçu, to be built in the vicinity of the property. The results of the Environmental Impact Assessment prepared for this project by the State of Paraná’s Environment Agency, along with the negative comments delivered by IBAMA (Brazilian Institute of the Environment) resulted in the denial of the project’s authorization by Paraná State authorities, based on significant projected negative effects on Iguaçu National Park.
The State Party report also noted the existence of 5 other hydroelectric dams on the Iguaçu River, the closest to the property located 30km upstream. The report explains that these dams have already resulted in a modification of the volumes and nature of the river’s water flow to the property, though it goes on to state that measuring the precise nature and extent of such effects would require intensive research and monitoring work.
The Iguaçu and nearby Paraná River systems, marking the boundaries of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, continue to attract significant interest on behalf of hydroelectric dam construction proponents. Given the complex engineering and hydrological nature of such initiatives, it is difficult with the information received to determine to what degree the property’s Outstanding Universal Value and its integrity may be at risk without detailed knowledge of the hydrological system and of the various project proposals under consideration.
During a mission to Iguazú National Park (Argentina) from 1 to 3 September 2006, the World Heritage Centre noted the high intensity public use of the Park concentrated around the falls area, and that tourism infrastructure developed in response to visitation appears to be largely disregarding the need to put in place measures and restrictions to maintain the exceptional natural beauty (criteria vii) for both the Argentinean and Brazilian properties.
A second report, received by the World Heritage Centre on 26 April 2007, provided information on the additional points raised in Decision 30 COM 7B.31. The report explains that the Estrada do Colono Road, a subject of on-going management difficulties in the property, remains closed. Formerly traversing the property, it was closed in 1986, and forcibly re-opened by in 1998 by local users, prompting the Committee to inscribe the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1999. The State Party closed the road again in 2000, leading to the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2001. A new incursion in October 2003, this time lasting only a few weeks, renewed concerns over the commitment to keep the road closed. A judicial process, still underway, is expected to rule shortly on the closure of the road, at which point the Centre will be informed. In the meantime, the report provided by the State Party indicates that political pressure to re-open the road has diminished in part due to the implementation by the Park administration, of various initiatives, including by providing Park-related job opportunities. The report notes that 24,000 people, mostly students and teachers, participated in various activities designed to increase their appreciation of the Park
The report also provides details on park financing. The park budget in 2006 was R$9,200,000 (approximately USD 4,500,000), of which R$2,600,000 are provided by the federal government for operations, which also covers personnel costs separately. Other financing sources include a portion of park entrance fees and private foundations. The State of Paraná is cited as a pioneer in the use of the proceeds from an environment tax, allowing municipalities surrounding the Park to finance conservation related activities.
Agricultural runoff into waterways which make their way into the Park is noted as a pollution threat in the report. Programmes to improve riparian zones outside the Park are underway, with the participation of Park staff.
Park staff has carried out a management effectiveness assessment to help identify management gaps and opportunities. They are considering a framework of state of conservation indicators, as recommended in Decision 30 COM 7B.31.
In addition, IUCN notes that information has been received on the visual and sonic impacts associated to the operation of helicopters flying over the property; an issue on which the World Heritage Committee had previously noted its concern, as this affects the quality of visitation of this property particularly on the Argentinean side. IUCN also notes reports on the continued lack of cooperation between the States Parties of Brazil and Argentina in relation to the conservation and management of this property and in particular in relation to tourism development.