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The Brazilian Committee of the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS BRAZIL) manifests its perplexity and vehement repudiation of the intervention that is taking place on the Natural Monuments, Sugar Loaf and Morro da Urca, in Rio de Janeiro, notwithstanding their existing protection in several spheres. Since 1973, they have been listed extensively by IPHAN (in the category: archaeology, ethnography and landscape). In 2006, the Municipal Conservation Unit (MoNa do Pão de Açúcar e Morro da Urca) was created. These mountains also constitute prominent elements in the whole Rio scenario, (see “Paisagens Cariocas entre a Montanha e o Mar” [Carioca Landscapes – Between the Mountains and the Sea), recognised by UNESCO in 2012 as a Cultural Landscape World Heritage Site. In addition to its natural and landscape heritage, Sugar Loaf has recently been recognised by the UNESCO International Geoscience Programme (IGCP) as one of the 100 most outstanding geomorphological features, due to the uniqueness of its shape.

Sugar Loaf is famous, both nationally and internationally, as one of the most significant Rio de Janeiro icons for the city’s inhabitants and for tourists. It is one of the most sought after landscapes for contemplation, as well for admiration of the stunning landscape itself.

According to expert technical opinion, already published, the aforementioned intervention; namely the installation of a zip line, constitutes mutilation of this treasured asset, as drilling and cutting the rock represent removal of the very matter that constitutes it, which, moreover, may cause increase in the size of fissures and detachment of large pieces, even risking changing the shape of this massif, not to mention compromising its resistance and integrity. This fact blatantly contradicts the precepts of protection and conservation of the National Heritage, established by Decree-Law No. 25 , issued on 30th November, 1937, Article 17 of which establishes that:

Listed things may not be destroyed, demolished or mutilated, nor may they be repaired, painted or restored without special authorization from the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Service.

In this sense, it is considered that approval of this intervention was granted without the company having presented all the elements essential to prior analysis, such as a comprehensive study of the resistance of the rock mass, including by seismographic survey, detailing of the drilling project, the volume of rock to be altered/drilled, etc.

In view of the above, fulfilling its mission of promoting and guaranteeing the conservation, protection and appreciation of monuments and sites, and particularly the authenticity and outstanding universal value of assets recognised as World Heritage, ICOMOS BRAZIL strongly recommends immediate interruption of the work, revocation of licenses, as well as a new appreciation of the merit of Sugar Loaf and Morro da Urca as assets listed due to their natural and landscape value, which, this time, should be based on the Listing legislation and the potential exposure to risk for the landscape attributes. Furthermore, rock recomposition is required where drilling has already been performed, applying the best technology available to restore the physical integrity of these mountains.

Rio de Janeiro, 4th April, 2023


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