Aparados da Serra National Park was created in 1959 by federal decree no 47446/59.
The park has a management plan, officially adopted in 1984, which defines the zoning, the management programs, and a program of integrated development. The primary management goals are integral nature protection, to provide open-air recreation, scientific research, and environmental education. Currently, the management plan is in final revision phase.
In 1995, an emergency action plan was devised (IBAMA, 1995) to control the fires that affected the grasslands and to improve the park's management deficiencies. This plan was partially carried out and resulted in action proposals for the park, supplying the national park with the minimum amount of infrastructure needed.
In 2002, complying with one of the requirements stipulated in the laws regulating the Brazilian System of Protected Areas, a consultative committee for this national park was created. Its primary function is to support the administration of the protected area in many different areas. It also aims to involve the local society, the business sector, non-governmental organizations and government institutions in discussions of mutual interest concerning the national park. At the time of this assessment, the consultative committee was composed of 76 institutions, 33 of which are entitled to vote.
IBAMA is responsible for park administration. At the time of ParksWatch's evaluation, the park team was composed of 23 employees: 2 administrators, 3 technicians, 6 for visitors' care, 2 people for the maintenance, 2 drivers, and 8 guards. However, inevitably, personnel often share functions to meet the demands and carry out the work.
Of the entire team, only 4 people are employed by IBAMA. The other are hired from other institutions such as Cambará do Sul city-hall and Universidade do Extremo Sul Catarinense, and lent to the park. Nearly all the members of the surveillance team (which is responsible only for the security of the buildings and the physical patrimony and do not perform the activities of a park guard), with the exception of those in charge of the entrance, are contract workers rather than staff.
Each year, a prevention and fire-fighting team is hired temporarily. In 2002, 21 people were hired for the team. This period normally extends from July to January, when the risk of fires is greatest. The brigade's work is part of IBAMA's program, Centro Nacional de Prevenção e Combate aos Incêndios Florestais (PREVFOGO) that provides financial resources and technical support and training to the fire fighters. To aid inspection and control activities in the park, there are information and control booths that also function as guard outposts.
The park is now open to the public and, for that, it counts on a visitor's center, trails and lookouts. Two trails, Vértice and Cotovelo, are located next to the visitors' center and allow the visitor to observe Itaimbezinho Canyon from the edge of the plateau. The third trail, Rio do Boi, goes through a stretch of grassland and enters, to a certain point, Itaimbezinho Canyon itself.
Visitation has been significantly increasing within the last years, as shown in the figure below. In 2002, the park received about 38,000 visitors. When fees are collected (they are not always collected), it costs R$6/person (about US$2) and there is a parking fee (R$3 for motorcycle, R$5 for car, R$10 for bus). These revenues go into the general national park coffers and then are redistributed among parks; thus, Aparados da Serra is not able to use the money collected from its visitors directly.
Visitation to Aparados da Serra National Park between 1999 and 2002
Like most Brazilian conservation units, Aparados da Serra National Park has a budget that varies significantly from one year to another. In 2002, the park was given R$ 51,400 (approximately US$ 18,000) to carry out its annual plan. This is actual money for use in park management; the salaries are not paid with money.
Since the elaboration of the management plan in 1984, the need to consider areas adjoining the Park as protected has been considered, in order to shelter other exquisite geological formations, increasing significantly the size of the protected area, and improving possibilities of species maintenance in the long term. As a result, in 1992 Serra Geral National Park was created, consisting of two areas neighboring Aparados da Serra.
Even though they are legally two distinct conservation units, Aparados da Serra and Serra Geral National Parks are managed as one. The administrative and operational team is divided between the two parks. However, Serra Geral is in a much earlier stage of implementation and totally lacks infrastructure. Aparados da Serra management plan is being revised and most likely this shared administrative will remain, resulting in a protected area of 27,550 hectares.