Discovering the fauna of the Iguaçu National Park
Iguaçu National Park, the second oldest National Park in Brazil, was the first protected area in the country to be nominated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 and harbors the largest tract of Atlantic Forest in the South Region of Brazil.
Apart from its impressive landscapes and exuberant vegetation, the park protects the incomparable Iguaçu Falls, one of the new seven natural wonders of the world. Annually, the falls attract more than 1.5 million visitors from all over the world making it one of the most visited national parks in Brazil and Argentina. Revenue from entrance fees helps to fund both countries’ protected area systems.
United with the Iguazú National Park in Argentina by the River Iguaçu, the park is part of the most important area of forest in the Central-South region of South America which comprises 600,000 hectares of protected areas plus another 400,000 hectares of primary forest. As such, Argentina and Brazil have a mutual responsibility to implement joint conservation efforts to ensure the preservation of this world heritage.
The area shelters more than 250 species of trees and it is estimated that there are more than 550 species of birds, 120 species of mammals, 635 species of butterflies, 79 species of reptiles and 55 species of amphibians. It is the second most visited park in Brazil and has an estimated annual economic and ecological value of over R$700 million. According to the Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA, acronym in Portuguese), tourism in the national park generates over R$88 million a year and neighboring municipalities raise R$10 million a year in ecological value added tax revenue.
Furthermore, using a method that estimates the economic value of environmental services per acre of preserved Atlantic Forest, the current value of the environmental services provided by this protected area, such as clean water supply, nutrient cycling, soil protection and restoration, erosion control and climate regulation, is estimated at over R$600 million a year.
With the aim of improving the quality of visitor experience in this immensely biodiverse area, WWF-Brasil produced a guide to the fauna of the Iguaçu National Park. This guide will contribute towards raising awareness among visitors and the population as a whole with respect to the importance of conserving this national heritage. After all, the first step is knowledge.