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

Previous monitoring missions

March 1999 and March 2005: UNESCO / IUCN missions

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Proposed development of hydropower dams;

b) Pressure to re-open 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 https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/355/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2008

As requested in Decision 31 COM 7B.39, the State Party of Brazil provided on 25 March 2008 an invitation in coordination with the State Party of Argentina for a joint World Heritage Centre / IUCN mission.

From 7 April to 14 April 2007 a joint World Heritage Centre / IUCN monitoring mission visited the property. The mission met State Party representatives, a variety of stakeholders and protected area staff and was able to visit both properties. The mission report is available online at the following web address: https://whc.unesco.org/archive/2008/

The monitoring mission found that the outstanding universal value for which the property was inscribed on the World Heritage List is still present, though materially impaired, and facing severe threats. Scenic and biological values have been degraded by the marked weekly variations in water volumes of the Iguaçu River and Waterfalls, caused by the Salto Caxias Dam in Brazil. The severity and extent of biological impacts has not yet been quantified. Scenic values have been compromised by public use infrastructure on both the Brazilian and Argentinean sides, and the visual and aural integrity of the natural setting is impaired by regular visitor use activities that cater to thrill-seeking rather than appreciation of World Heritage values. Threats include the possibility of construction of new hydroelectric dams on the Iguaçu and Paraná Rivers and agricultural development in the Argentine Peninsula, an area outside the properties, but which is a key biological corridor between them.

a) Trans-boundary cooperation

Management of both the Iguaçu National Park (Brazil) and the Iguazú National Park (Argentina) would greatly benefit from a permanent and efficient mechanism for trans-boundary co-operation, especially with respect to resource protection, research, and public use. While informal consultation and cooperation takes place at the level of the Parks, it has proven difficult to develop formal mechanisms.

b) Up-to-date management and public use plans

The management plan for Iguaçu National Park requires extensive revision. A public use plan drafted years ago has never been oficially approved or put into effect. A similar situation exists for the property in Argentina. The monitoring mission was pleased to note that the two Parks will launch coordinated but separate revisions of the two management plans, including public use issues, starting with a series of informal joint meetings.  A first joint workshop will reportedly take place during the first week of August 2008.

c) Public Use

The mission observed that, while the current general level of visitor flows is managed efficiently, the Park faces occasional unmanageable peaks in visitation, and an upward trend in numbers.  A strategy is required to smooth out these peaks in space and time, and deal with the ever-increasing numbers of visitors. It was further noted that there are yet no clear policies or standards on visual and audio impacts on the integrity of the property's aesthetic values from tourism infrastructure, or with respect to architecture styles, sighting of infrastructure, or the choice and location of tourism activities.  Of particular concern are the visual and audio impacts from infrastructure and adventure sport water craft and infrastructure developments encroaching on the scenic quality of the overall Falls sector landscape. The tendency toward visitor experiences geared to thrill seeking rather than the appreciation of World Heritage values is of particular concern.

d) Hydroelectric dams

The monitoring mission considers the greatest current degradation of the scenic qualities of the property to be the fluctuation of the volumes of water flowing over the falls, changing their visual quality. A key factor is the hydroelectric dams on the Iguaçu River, the closest of which is the Salto Caxias dam. The dam is closed on the weekend when there is less demand for energy, and results in a drop in the volume of water in the Falls.  This action already degrades the visual qualities of the visitor experience during the first part of the week, and if combined with a dry season and the possible effects of climate change, could dramatically reduce the amount of water in the falls in the future.

The mission team was informed that programmed within the National Development Plan of Brazil is the construction of a hydroelectric dam project somewhere within the 25 kilometer stretch of river from the falls area upstream to the Salto Caxias dam on the Iguaçu River.

e) Biodiversity

There is a lack of data on many of the species for which the site was inscribed on the World Heritage list.  Thus, there is a need for research and subsequent data sharing between the two properties to determine the status and trends of these populations. The monitoring mission took note of the importance of the "Argentine Peninsula Bottleneck" a stretch of private land in Argentina that serves as a biological corridor between the two properties.

In addition, agreements between the Federal Police of Brazil and IBAMA, Brazil’s Environmental Ministry, for patrolling of Iguaçu National Park have been suspended. Patrols are carried out by State Police not specifically trained in addressing issues of law enforcement in relation to the property’s biological values.

f) Estrada do Colono

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN notes the regional court decision on the continued closure of the Estrada do Colono in the Brazilian property and that this has been appealed by the local government to the Supreme Court. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN


Decision Adopted: 32 COM 7B.32

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-08/32.COM/7B.Add,

2. Recalling Decision 31 COM 7B.39, adopted at its 31th session (Christchurch, 2007),

3. Notes that the Outstanding Universal Value of the property is present though degraded, but notes with serious concern the various specific threats which the property currently faces, in particular threats due to biodiversity and visual impacts;

4. Urges the State Party, in coordination with the State Party of Argentina, to implement the following recommendations of the 2008 World Heritage Centre / IUCN mission in order to strengthen the management and protect the biodiversity of the property:

a) create a permanent and effective mechanism for transboundary co-operation, in particular for research, resource protection, and public use oriented to the appreciation of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;

b) continue joint efforts with the State Party of Argentina toward a coordinated revision of the management plans for the two adjacent properties, including development of shared indicators and standards for minimising visitor impacts, and establishing acceptable limits of change for biological and aesthetic values, including visual and audio impacts for all tourism and public use activities and associated infrastructure; and short-term oscillations in the water levels of the Iguaçu River and Falls;

c) carry out a study of the short-term oscillation of water levels in the Iguaçu River and Falls to quantify biological and visual impacts, and develop a monitoring process to track change and regularly inform decision-making;

d) carry out a study of the economic benefits of tourism to the local economies and an inventory of those local attractions that could aid in diverting visitation away from the Falls area and that would contribute to building local constituencies;

e) develop and implement a research and monitoring strategy for the key species that were specifically listed when site was inscribed;

f) develop a qualified Ranger Corps for the Park specially trained in addressing conservation issues;

5. Also urges the State Party to implement an early warning system to alert the World Heritage Committee to any plans for the development of a hydroelectric project on the Iguaçu River that would impact the property;

6. Requests the State Party, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, to develop a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value including the conditions of integrity, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009;

7. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2010, a report on the state of conservation of the property and on progress in the implementation of the recommendations of the 2008 mission, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010.