UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Brazil
Brazil has a total of 20 heritage sites listed by UNESCO. 13 of them are cultural, and 7 are natural sites. The Historic town of Ouro Preto was once a center for the Brazilian gold industry in the 18th century. Apart from ancient cities, there are also forest reserves like the Atlantic Forest South-East Reserves which is important for its biodiversity that is unique and rare. The country also houses the world largest protected Amazon biome which is home to the most significant biodiversity of flora and fauna.
Atlantic Forest South-East Reserves
Known as the Serra do Mar, the Atlantic Forest Southeast Reserves is a 1,500 km large ecosystem of escarpments and mountain ranges. The mountain ranges are from the massive crystalline rock and are tectonically stable. History has it that the reserves were formed about 60 million years ago. Before the Europeans discovered Brazil in the 1500s, Serra do Mar was rich in lush tropical rain forests termed as Atlantic forests. When civilizations flourished, clearance of forests to create space for development and urbanization ruined most of the ecosystem covers. Today the remains of the Atlantic Forest are on the steep escarpments facing the sea. National and state parks, biological reserves and ecological stations protect what are the remnants of these forests reserves and the natural biodiversity. However, acid rains, pollution, poaching, logging, forest fires, and extensive human encroachment are destroying the remains of Malta Atlantica despite the measures put forward to conserve and protect them. UNESCO declared the reserve a world heritage site in 1999.
Brasilia, established in April 1960 to serve as the new capital of the nation, sits on the mighty Brazilian Highlands. However, preparations had started more than two centuries before the government relocated the country’s capital to a more central location. The modern architectural and the unique artistic work in urban planning made it as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1987. Lucio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer planned and developed Brasilia as the nation capital relocating it to Rio de Janeiro, which was centrally located. From 1956 to April 21, 1960, Brasilia was made a reality under Roberto Burle as the landscape designer. The city is structured into numbered blocks and sectors for specific activities there are hotel sector, banking sector, and embassy sector. From the time of conception, the historic town was a wonder. The Federal District Government and Federal Government share the responsibility of protecting the integrity and authenticity of this ancient wonder of exceptional talent. At the local level, there are a series of specific laws intended to protect the site. However, the site is still prone to pressure from real estate development, illegal occupation of green spaces and public areas, encroachment of private property and increased traffic.
Historic Town of Ouro Preto
Founded in the last phase of the 17th century, Ouro Preto, commonly known as Black Gold was the central part of the Brazilian gold rush and the development that followed. The ancient town stands on the steep slopes of Vila Rica. The city has retained its winding roads, and the squares, public buildings, fountains, bridges, residences, and churches found within the irregular layout of the contours. The town was home to the famous Antonio Francisco and other artists whose work is seen in Baroque architecture design making up the city. The most notable work is the religious monuments and administrative buildings like the Palacio dos Governadores, which is today’s school of mines and the former Casa de Camara e Cadeia which houses the Inconfidencia Museum. The whole city is a Portuguese heritage bearing testimony to the exceptional artistic work and the pioneer miners’ wealth. Even though some houses suffer from neglect the historic town of Ouro Preto still retains its urban nucleus. Expanding urbanization, industrialization, and tourists are the primary threats facing the city. Also, the city expansion to nearby hillsides and occupying geologically unstable terrains and other archeological sites poses a constant threat to the urban setting. A series of government initiatives to protect the city has been initiated, for example, the National Institute of Historical and Artistic Heritage and the Fine Arts Heritage Registry. UNESCO declared the ancient town a cultural world heritage site in 1980.
Central Amazon Conservation Complex
This complex is the world largest protected area of the Amazon Basin. In fact, it is the world richest ecosystem with a wide range of biodiversity. UNESCO listed it as a natural world heritage site in 2000. The complex has three protected areas Jau National Park, Anavilhanas National Park, Mamairaua Sustainable Development Reserve, and the Amana Sustainable Development Reserve. The Complex location on the confluence of Salimoes and Negro Rivers made it a hub for biodiversity like the dry land forests and periodically flooded lowlands of Varzea and Igapo. The Anavilhanas Archipelago has the world largest array of electric fish. The flooded forests exhibit ecological processes involved in the development of terrestrial and freshwater ecoregion. Today, the area is the most important Endemic Bird Area and Center of Plant diverse species. It houses the largest primate species and endangered species like bald uakari and the black squirrel monkey Saimiri. The level of anthropogenic in the region is minimal. The sites have management plans stipulated in the Brazilian Legislation of National Parks which is responsible for conservation. The complex is also part of the Biosphere Reserve as it is an Amazon Biome. The beauty derived from these heritage sites attracts millions of tourists from all over the world. The ecosystem, the ancient towns and the talent used in constructing them give the country a lush landscape. Even with human encroachment, most of the world heritage sites have retained their sparkle and integrity.