1.         Cerrado Protected Areas: Chapada dos Veadeiros and Emas National Parks (Brazil) (N 1035bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2001

Criteria  (ix)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1035/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1035/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted to the property: USD100,000 - World Heritage Biodiversity Programme for Brazil; USD 30,000 Rapid Response Facility support for firefighting. 

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Insufficient legal framework and protection in place.

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1035/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2012

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.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note the complexity involved in establishing a conservation area of equal value under the World Heritage Convention as that which was lost by the cancellation of the Federal decree for the expansion of Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park in 2003. However, the fact remains that 170,455 hectares of a World Heritage property are currently not clearly benefitting from the statutory protection normally required under the World Heritage Convention.  

Though the State Party hopes to assemble a mosaic of smaller components which benefit from varying degrees of protection status, it is not yet clear that these, individually or as a whole, would meet the strict integrity requirements under the Convention. The State Party’s timeline for the completion of the assembly of this protected area mosaic appears optimistic, given the political and administrative challenges involved with such a task.   

Despite the State Party’s efforts to show that the property’s Outstanding Universal Value remains intact and under no significant threat, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN recommend that the Committee express its serious concern over the integrity of the property. They also wish to highlight to the Committee that it may take some time yet for the State Party to submit a finalized alternative to the original property boundary considered by the Committee in 2001. They note that the result of the State Party’s efforts will need to be evaluated as a re-nomination, given the expected changes both in the property’s original boundaries, and in its management regime. To ensure that the State Party’s efforts will align with the requirements of the Convention, it should consult closely with IUCN while attempting to reconstitute the necessary standards of integrity for the property. The invitation for an advisory mission in this regard is welcomed; however the World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that the issues to be considered require a reactive monitoring mission, and suggest that such a mission be undertaken by IUCN. This mission could also provide further advice to the State Party as required. However, until the World Heritage Committee has had the opportunity to consider the revised proposal for the boundaries and management regime for this property, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN stress that the property is under potential danger as per Paragraph 180 b) i) of the Operational Guidelines

Decision Adopted: 36 COM 7B.30

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7B.Add,

2.  Recalling Decision 35 COM 7B.28, adopted at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011);

3.  Notes with concern that the majority of the Chapada dos Veadeiros component of this serial property continues to no longer benefit from National Park status, and that its integrity is no longer guaranteed;

4.  Also recalling the State Party’s earlier commitment to resolve this situation by March 2012;

5.  Also notes that the State Party has committed to presenting the final project for the re-establishment of sufficient protection status for the property, or an equivalent configuration of what is currently recognized as the property under the World Heritage Convention, to the Minister of Environment by June 2013;

6.  Considers that any new configuration of property boundaries and/or conservation status proposed by the State Party will likely require a re-nomination, and recommends the State Party to consult closely with IUCN in this regard;

7.  Requests the State Party to invite a reactive monitoring mission undertaken by IUCN to assess issues related to the legal status of the property, and to provide further advice to the State Party as required;

8.  Urges the State Party to resolve, in close consultation with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, the integrity issues resulting from the loss of protection status without further delay;

9.  Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2013, a report on the state of conservation of the property, including a report on the state of advancement on the re-establishment of its conditions of integrity, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session in 2013.