Location and Values: The Paraty and Ilha Grande World Heritage Site is located along the Atlantic seaboard of South America, mid-way between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in southern Brazil. It is designated as a cultural landscape, recognizing the importance of Paraty as one of Brazil’s best-preserved historic towns, and its association with the biologically diverse forests that surround it. From a biodiversity viewpoint, Brazil’s Atlantic Forest is considered to be one of the world’s key biodiversity hotspots as well as being one of its most threatened habitats, with only about 7.3% of the original forest remaining. The site includes most of the forested slopes of a massive ‘amphitheatre’ of hills overlooking a bay, dotted with islands, including the largest, Ilha Grande. It includes four designated protected areas, covering a wide range of elevation (from sea level to around 2,000m) and corresponding diversity of habitats, with evergreen rainforests, high-altitude grasslands, mangrove communities and coastal sandbanks.
Conservation Status and Prospects. According to IUCN’s 2019 evaluation of the nomination the protection status of the site is satisfactory. Nevertheless, the evaluation document identifies a number of ongoing and potential threats to its long-term conservation, and recognizes, in particular, that some of the protected areas have resident populations whose livelihoods depend on the exploitation of natural resources. Ranching is a significant threat because it involves forest clearance, and may impact watershed protection as well as leading to the extermination of predators such as jaguars and cougars (which are essential elements in maintaining the ecological integrity of the site). Other potential threats that require monitoring and mitigation include (1) fishing, (2) climate change, and (3) tourism development. In addition there is a potential threat from a chytrid fungus which is devastating frog populations in other areas and could easily spread here, leading to the extinction of species endemic to this site. Two further potential threats arise from the proximity of major industrial facilities, namely the Almirante Alvaro Alberto Nuclear Centre and the Petrobas Port Terminal. These two facilities have the potential to cause serious pollution, and may lead to the accidental introduction of invasive marine species by ships around the port and shipping lanes.
Official UNESCO Site Details