Aparados da Serra National Park is located in the northeast region of Rio Grande do Sul State, on the border with the extreme southeast of Santa Catarina State and shelters a portion of the beautiful Serra Geral. It covers parts of the municipalities of Cambará do Sul (60%), on the plateau of Rio Grande do Sul and Praia Grande (40%), on Santa Catarina’s plain. Outside of the park but within its area of influence are the municipalities of São João do Sul, in Santa Catarina, and Mampituba, Morrinhos do Sul, Três Forquilhas, Terra de Areia, São Francisco de Paula and Jaquirana, in Rio Grande do Sul.
The Park shelters geomorphologic formations of the Serra Geral, which are exceptionally beautiful and attract approximately 5,000 visitors a month. The creation of the park in 1959 signified an early concern regarding the future of such formations in Brazil’s south region. In 1992, Serra Geral National Park was created, with the goal of expanding protection of the region. Serra Geral National Park’s 17,300 ha adjoins Aparados da Serra National Park. The two parks are managed together. Aparados da Serra was originally created by Decree no. 47446 in 1959, with approximately 13,000 ha. It was reduced to 10,250 ha in 1972 through a new decree (no 70296).
The reduction can be contested since, for the alteration to be legally valid, it should have been done through law passed at the congressional level not merely another presidential decree. After the 1972 reduction, the park was managed excluding the northern section, according to its new size. Thus, the limits of the park are within the projected coordinates UTM 581426 and 595840 for longitudes and 6777840 and 6763175 for latitudes, the zone 22 south constituting the reference zone (calculated by ParksWatch-Brazil using a shape file provided by the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Natural Resources (IBAMA)).
There is some discrepancy between the approximate area mentioned in the decrees and the areas indicated by the shape files available on IBAMA’s website. ParksWatch – Brazil’s calculations show that the current area of the park is 15% bigger than the park’s area estimated through the alteration decree. However, the accuracy of the file should be confirmed before considering the true area as larger. Ground truthing may be necessary.
Considering the shape of the conservation unit, we determined that the park’s perimeter to area ratio is “medium-favorable”. That is, for each hectare of protected area, the conservation unit presents 4.8 m of perimeter. Nevertheless, when taken into account the adjoining Serra Geral National Park, the outer perimeter (park’s interface with private unprotected areas) and the area of Aparados da Serra National Park, a theoretical ideal value of 3.1 m of perimeter per hectare of protected area is reached. This relation is extremely favorable for the park.
There are three ways to reach Aparados da Serra National Park. The first is from Porto Alegre (capital of Rio Grande do Sul) through highway RS-020, passing by Taquara and São Francisco de Paula and reaching Cambará do Sul. This route totals 182 km of paved roads. From this point on, there are still 17 km of unpaved road until the main entrance gate and visitors’ center. The second option is a variation of the first, via the tourist cities of Gramado and Canela. This option adds 58 km to the trip. The third option is the most adequate for those coming from either the shore or the north, from highway BR-101. From BR-101 near Torres municipality, it is an additional 19 km on an unpaved road that goes up Faxinal ridge, until it reaches the front entrance of the visitors’ center (IBDF, 1984; IBAMA, 1995). There is no regular public transportation to the park.
The park is located in the temperate zone, with mild temperatures and well-defined seasons. However, due to the proximity to the sea and relief formations, the climate is more subtropical. Rainfall is abundant and well distributed throughout the year, reaching 1500-1750 mm a year on the plains, and 1750-2250 mm a year on the plateau. January is the hottest month, when the average temperature varies around 20 to 22oC. A very important feature concerning climate is the occurrence of several frosts during the year and at least one occurrence of snow in the region of the plateau (IBDF, 1984).
The park is found completely within the Atlantic Forest biome and, according to Dinerstein et al. (1995), it is part of the Araucaria Moist Forests ecoregion. The park shelters stretches of low montane Atlantic rain forest, montane Atlantic rain forest, high montane Araucaria moist forest, cloud forest, grasslands without trees or shrubs, grass vegetation on thin soil with rock formations, peat swamps, and cliff vegetation.