Brasil has 62 National Parks, and the list grows every year. Out of those, 22 are not opened to the public, as the government lacks the funds to run them, and only a very small amount of those parks opened for visitation have an infrastructure that remotely resembles what we understand for a National Park in the northern hemisphere.
The best known and most visited of all the parks is the Parque Nacional do Iguaçu.
Having 22 parks no one can visit is, of course, a contradiction, as the raison d’être of a national park is to exist so people can visit it. Worse than that are the very real threats hovering over all the parks -whether opened or not, a threat that comes in multiple shapes: illegal forest fires, deforestation, hunting, plantations, illegal mining and trafficking of wild animals.
To see the complete list of National Parks you need to visit the website of Ibama, the Brazilian government’s body supposedly responsible for the protection of the enviroment. There, click on Mapa do Site on the top bar and then, on the very last section of the following page, Unidades de Conservação, select Parques Nacionais. There isn’t a direct link to the page (the Brazilian government urgently needs someone to redesign all its webpages). Ibama have information pages on only six parks:
- Parque Nacional da Chapada dos Veadeiros
- Parque Nacional da Serra dos Orgãos
- Parque Nacional do Caparaó
- Parque Nacional do Itatiaia
- Parque Nacional do Iguaçu
- Parque Nacional Marino dos Abrolhos
The Folha de São Paulo published in 18 March an article on the fall on the number of visitors to the national parks, a fall due to different factors (the draught in Iguaçu, lack of safety in the Parque da Tijuca in Rio de Janeiro). On the article there was a table with the number of visitors to most of the parks in 2006, information I am reproducing here:
- Abrolhos – 6.326
- Aparados da Serra – 47.676
- Caparaó – 31.472
- Chapada dos Guimarães – 112.260
- Chapada dos Veadeiros – 17.441
- Emas – 2.486
- Fernando de Noronha – 49.568
- Iguazú – 954.039
- Itatiaia – 79.458
- Lençóis Maranhenses – 21.000
- Jaú – 778
- Serra da Bocaina – 5.481
- Serra da Canastra – 34.979
- Serra da Capivara – 9.505
- Serra do Cipó – 13.675
- Serra dos Órgãos – 97.333
- Serra Geral – 29.286
- Sete Cidades – 16.993
- Tijuca – 744.425
- Ubajara – 51.440
It is surprising to see the tiny amount of visitors some of the parks receive, a result of the total lack of infraestructure together with the lack of interest from the authorities in promoting an alternative kind of tourism.
In spite of grandiloquent and bombastic speeches from Embratur and other official bodies responsible for the promotion of Brazil as a tourism destination, information continues to be one of the unresolved matters of tourism in Brazil – it would cost so little to do something on this field! I search on the Portal Brasileiro do Turismo (belonging to the Brazilian Ministry of Tourism) for information on the national parks and discover only six of them are mentioned.