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 https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/355/documents/

International Assistance

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

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

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

Previous monitoring missions

March 1999: IUCN mission; April 2005: joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; April 2008: joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; March 2015: IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 29 November 2019, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/355/documents/, providing the following information:

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The information regarding the Baixo Iguaçu (HPP), including that dam operations are being conducted in accordance with the conditions set out by ICMBio and IAP to maintain a minimum flow level of 350m3/s, is noted. Recalling that the new dam was expected to decrease the effects of fluctuating water levels (i.e. hydropeaking) from existing dams further upstream on the Iguaçu River, it is not clear from the provided data whether this has been achieved. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to provide updated information on compliance with the operational requirements, to closely monitor and manage water flow, including hydropeaking, and its effects and to report on these results.

It is of utmost concern that no specific assessment of the impacts of the HPP on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, was submitted prior to the dam’s construction and operation, as requested by the Committee. It is also of concern that not all recommendations of the 2015 IUCN Reactive Monitoring have been implemented.

While noting the on-going monitoring programmes by the HPP operator in cooperation with ICMBio, as required through the licencing process, no information was provided to clarify if these were developed in cooperation with the State Party of Argentina, as requested by the Committee. It is also recommended that the Committee request the State Party to ensure that these monitoring programmes effectively assess all possible negative impacts on the OUV of the property and that their results are used to inform action plans for mitigation, adaptive management and the operation of the Baixo Iguaçu HPP.

The initiation of other programmes is welcomed, such as the Biodiversity Corridor Consolidation programme to reconnect the property with isolated fragments of the surrounding forest and the Natural Resource Inspection Programme to combat illegal activities in the property and around the dam. It is recommended that the Committee encourage the State Party to continue these and report on their outcomes.

While it is noted that the Colono Road is still closed, it is of grave concern that two legislative Bills are being considered which could allow the re-opening of the road as a Park-Highway. It should be recalled that the World Heritage Committee in several Decisions concluded that a situation which could allow the re-opening of the road continues to represent a potential threat to the property’s OUV. It is therefore recommended that the Committee urge again the State Party to ensure the continued closure of Colono Road including through appropriate legislative mechanisms.

The approval of the updated Management Plan, as well as the establishment of the ‘Monitora’ programme, is welcomed. The complementary PUP is expected to promote increased engagement with local communities including plans to disperse tourism from a single location at Foz do Iguaçu to neighbouring municipalities. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to submit results from the biodiversity monitoring programme and provide information on the progress of improving tourist access opportunities from local municipalities other than Foz do Iguaçu.

The continued cooperation with the State Party of Argentina on information sharing, joint monitoring and surveillance activities are noted. However, it is regrettable that no specific cooperation was established to develop and implement a comprehensive monitoring, assessment and action plan to identify and address potential negative impacts from the Baixo Iguaçu (HPP) on the OUV of the two neighbouring properties. Noting that the State Party of Argentina has initiated a long-term monitoring and research project on the Iguazú River ecosystem and water quality, it is recommended that the Committee reiterate its request to the States Parties to collaborate on the development of a comprehensive overall monitoring system both for aquatic fauna and water flow. This monitoring would provide oversight and ensure compliance with the requirements and action plans prescribed for the hydropower project, thus assessing their effectiveness in mitigating adverse impacts on the OUV of the two properties.

Decision Adopted: 44 COM 7B.112

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7B.84, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Expresses its utmost concern that the Baixo Iguaçu hydropower plant (HPP) is now in full operation without the submission of a specific assessment of the project’s impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property to the World Heritage Centre, and requests the State Party to provide updated information on compliance with the specific operational requirements established for the operation of the HPP, particularly ensuring agreed minimum water flows and reduced fluctuations, and to report on these results;
  4. Takes note of the on-going monitoring programmes by the HPP operator and the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio), and also requests the State Party to:
    1. Review the monitoring programmes to ensure that all potential impacts of the HPP on the property’s OUV and integrity are being monitored and expand the ichthyofauna monitoring sub-programme to include all relevant species,
    2. Ensure that all negative impacts observed through monitoring are adequately addressed, including impacts from water pollution,
    3. Ensure that the monitoring results are used to regulate action plans for mitigation, adaptive management and the operation of the HPP;
  5. Regrets that no specific cooperation occurred with the State Party of Argentina to jointly assess the potential impacts of the new HPP, and reiterates its request to the States Parties of Argentina and Brazil to cooperate on the development of a comprehensive overall monitoring system both for aquatic fauna and water flow, which would provide oversight and ensure compliance with the requirements and action plans prescribed for the hydropower project, thus assessing their effectiveness in mitigating adverse impacts on the OUV of both properties;
  6. Welcomes programmes such as the Biodiversity Corridor Consolidation to reconnect the property with isolated fragments of the surrounding forest and the Natural Resource Inspection Programme to strengthen the fight against illegal activities, and also requests the State Party to continue these programmes and report on their outcomes;
  7. Expresses grave concern on the potential legislative implication of the two Bills (new PL 984/2019 and unarchived PLC 61/2013) under consideration, which propose the reopening of the Colono Road, and which could, if approved, 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 and urges the State Party to ensure the continued closure of Colono Road;
  8. Also welcomes the elaboration of the updated Management Plan for the Iguaçu National Park, as well as the establishment of the National Programme for Monitoring Biodiversity (‘Monitora’), and further requests the State Party to submit the Monitora programme results and provide information on the progress of improving tourist access opportunities from local municipalities other than Foz do Iguaçu;
  9. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2022, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 46th session.