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Iguaçu National Park

Brazil
Factors affecting the property in 2014*
  • Financial resources
  • Governance
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Illegal activities
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Invasive / alien freshwater species
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Water infrastructure
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Construction of a hydropower dam;
  • Pressure to re-open an illegal road;
  • Illegal logging and hunting;
  • Uncoordinated development;
  • Lack of transboundary cooperation;
  • Lack of sustainable financing;
  • Problems associated with public use and lack of public use plan;
  • Alien invasive species
  • Insufficient number of qualified staff for management and protection
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2014

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

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2014
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2014**

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2014

On 31 January 2014 the State Party of Argentina submitted a joint state of conservation report with the State Party of Brazil, as requested by Committee Decision 36 COM 7B.29, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/303/documents/. However, the State Party of Brazil subsequently submitted a separate report on 15 February 2014, available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/355/documents/. The joint report informs of progress on the intended transboundary cooperation between the two contiguous properties as follows:

  • Mutual participation in the planning processes aimed at updating the management plans for both properties;
  • Analysis of public use in both properties in order to develop a joint vision and shared visitation plan, mainly based on conservation criteria, visitation capacity, infrastructure, transportation, impact assessment and sewage treatment;
  • Joint analysis of major biodiversity conservation issues in both properties, namely monitoring of the water volume of the Iguazú River, road kill, alien invasive species (AIS) and monitoring of flora and fauna;
  • Joint definition of a technical cooperation protocol as a formal framework to reflect the institutional relationship between the two protected areas.

The separate report from the State Party of Brazil also refers to transboundary cooperation, although notes that transboundary conservation efforts have not yet been formalized. The report comments on conservation issues as follows:

  • The Brazilian government is against the re-opening of the “Settler’s Road” (Estrada do Colono) and the issue is described as settled both legally and administratively. However, the report refers to pending Bill 7123/2010, which would introduce the possibility of "park roads" within conservation areas. Already approved by the House of Representatives, the bill would provide a legal foundation for road construction in federal protected areas, if approved by Senate. The Brazilian Ministry of the Environment (MMA) and the Brazilian institution in charge of federal protected areas (ICMBio) are against this bill;
  • The Baixo Iguaçu Hydroelectric Project is under construction even though ICMBio has revoked its initial consent. According to the report, ICMBio is now part of a working group along with other institutions to analyse the environmental impact studies and also supervising compliance with conditions established to minimize environmental impacts;
  • Ongoing research has confirmed numerous alien invasive species (AIS) of plants and animals;
  • Although there are no specialized rangers in Brazil's federal protected area system, it is stated that protection and management have been undertaken satisfactorily by various staff.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2014

The short joint report focuses on transboundary cooperation. While its positive intent is welcomed, the report provides insufficient information to assess current and planned activities. Given the many linkages between the contiguous properties, a formalized transboundary cooperation framework, as requested by the Committee on several previous occasions, is still needed to ensure adequate coordination. The additional separate report from the State Party of Brazil notes little progress on this issue.

While the clear position of Brazilian government against the re-opening of the “Settler’s Road” is welcomed, there is some concern about the continuing possibility of another re-opening of the road after the issue appeared to be concluded in 2001. The Interior Atlantic Forest is a recognized global biodiversity conservation priority and a main justification for the property’s inscription (in addition to the spectacular waterfalls). The Interior Atlantic Forest has suffered massive forest loss, degradation and fragmentation over centuries and is highly threatened. It is scientifically recognised that the road would increase disturbance and open the area to poaching and illegal harvesting. The illegal opening of the road in 1997 led to the Committee decision in 1999 to inscribe the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger (Decision 23 COM X.B.20). A re-opening of the road would create the conditions to re-inscribe the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines.

Concerning the Baixo Iguaçu Hydroelectric Project in the immediate vicinity east of the property, there is some serious concern that no information has been provided on the possible impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and the neighbouring property of Iguazú National Park in Argentina. The intention to start construction should have been communicated to the World Heritage Centre according to Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines and as requested by the World Heritage Committee (Decision 36 COM 7B.29) in 2012. The construction should be halted immediately to permit a comprehensive assessment of the implications of the project on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of both properties, in conformity with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment.

The research on AIS indicates an urgent need for effective management activities in both properties, requiring international collaboration. It is noteworthy that concessionaires operating in the property are contractually obliged to eradicate AIS. However, compliance and effectiveness remain unclear.

The updating of the management plans in both properties constitutes an opportunity to develop a coherent response to the many conservation challenges. These include AIS and public use, but also illegal activities such as extraction of palm hearts and poaching. The property is Brazil's second most-visited protected area and generates substantial revenues and employment. The enormous potential for conservation financing remains to be fully realized. As a minimum, revenues should be used to ensure law enforcement and to implement management activities including public use, communication, education and awareness. In the short term the possible re-opening of the “Settler's Road” and the construction of Baixo Iguaçu require urgent attention of the World Heritage Committee. Therefore, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party of Brazil to invite an IUCN reactive monitoring mission to the property, to assess the status and impacts of these issues and the overall state of conservation of the property. It is also recommended that a mission to Brazil also be given the opportunity to meet with Argentinean counterparts to discuss matters of mutual concern.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2014
38 COM 7B.82
Iguaçu National Park (Brazil) (N 355)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 36 COM 7B.29, adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),
  3. Notes that the construction of the Baixo Iguaçu Hydroelectric Project has been suspended due to major flooding in the surroundings of the property on 7-9 June 2014, which has paralyzed the project, and that the State Party has confirmed that the construction licence for the project has been declared invalid;
  4. Requests the State Party to provide the World Heritage Centre with a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, and in conformity with IUCN’s World Heritage advice note on Environmental Assessment, to assist the State Party on the re-evaluation of the Baixo Iguaçu Hydroelectric project, prior to any further authorisation of construction;
  5. Also notes with significant concern that proposed Bill 7123/2010, currently under consideration by the Brazilian Congress, represents a continued risk that the "Settler's Road" might be re-opened, and recalls that the illegal opening of the road in 1997 led the Committee to inscribe the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  6. Considers that a re-opening of the “Settler’s Road” or the continued construction of the Baixo Iguaçu Hydroelectric Project prior to an assessment of impacts on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value having been completed, could create the conditions to re-inscribe the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines;
  7. Expresses its concern about the changes to federal protected area legislation as proposed in Bill 7123/2010, which would enable road construction in protected areas, and which could also impact on other World Heritage properties in Brazil, and urges the State Party to rigorously ensure that road construction in World Heritage properties affected by this Bill remains prohibited by law;
  8. Reiterates its request to the States Parties of Brazil and Argentina to foster transboundary cooperation between the two contiguous properties of Iguaçu National Park and Iguazú National Park, in order to politically confirm and technically guide cooperation and coordination;
  9. Also requests the State Party to ensure reinforced coordination with the State Party of Argentina in updating both management plans, addressing in particular conservation financing, law enforcement, alien invasive species, public use, communication, education and awareness;
  10. Further request the State Party of Brazil to invite an IUCN reactive monitoring mission to the property to assess the status and potential impact of the Baixo Iguaçu dam and the overall state of conservation of the property, including the area previously affected by the “Settler’s Road”;
  11. Further requests the State Party to submit by 1 February 2015 to the World Heritage Centre, a progress report on the implementation of the above and, in consultation with the State Party of Argentina, by 1 December 2015 an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session in 2016.
Draft Decision:   38COM 7B.82

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7B,

2.  Recalling Decision 36 COM 7B.29, adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),

3.  Notes with utmost concern that the construction of the Baixo Iguaçu Hydroelectric Project appears to have started and requests the State Party to halt the construction with immediate effect, and to provide the World Heritage Centre with a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, and in conformity with IUCN’s World Heritage advice note on Environmental Assessment;

4.  Also notes with significant concern that the continued risk of the re-opening of the "Settler's Road" has not been unambiguously removed, recalls that the illegal opening of the road in 1997 led the Committee to inscribe the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger;

5.  Considers that a re-opening of the “Settler’s Road” or the continued construction of the Baixo Iguaçu Hydroelectric Project prior to an assessment of impacts on the property’s OUV having been completed, could create the conditions to re-inscribe the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines;

6.  Expresses its concern about the changes to federal protected area legislation as proposed in Bill 7123/2010, which would enable road construction in protected areas, and which could also impact on other World Heritage properties in Brazil, and urges the State Party to rigorously ensure that road construction in World Heritage properties affected by this Bill remains prohibited by law;

7.  Regrets the lack of tangible progress in formalizing and operationalizing transboundary cooperation with the neighbouring property of Iguazú National Park in Argentina, and reiterates its request to the States Parties of Brazil and Argentina to formalize transboundary cooperation between the two contiguous properties in order to politically confirm and technically guide cooperation and coordination;

8.  Requests the State Party to ensure full coordination with the State Party of Argentina in updating both management plans, addressing in particular conservation financing, law enforcement, alien invasive species, public use, communication, education and awareness;

9.  Also requests the State Party of Brazil to invite an IUCN reactive monitoring mission to the property to assess the status and potential impact of the Baixo Iguaçu dam and the “Settler’s Road”, and the overall state of conservation of the property;

10.  Further requests the State Party, in consultation with the State Party of Argentina, to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015, with a view to considering, in the case of confirmation of the ascertained or potential danger to Outstanding Universal Value, the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Report year: 2014
Brazil
Date of Inscription: 1986
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(x)
Danger List (dates): 1999-2001
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 38COM (2014)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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