Serra da Canastra National Park was created in April 1972 during the Brazilian dictatorship, with the initial aim of protecting the River São Francisco, which, apart from being a historical symbol, is one of the most important rivers and hydrographical basins of the country. Its limits were established of approximately 200,000 hectares, but only 71,525 hectares are under park’s management. Today, the park is under the conservation control of the Chico Mendes Institute, which manages the park, and IBAMA, who polices it – both are part of the Federal Ministry of the Environment. The territory of the reserve as it stands today is located within three municipalities: São Roque de Minas, Sacramento and Delfinópolis, in the state of Minas Gerais.
The Cerrado ecosystem covers 23% of Brazilian territory, equalling 200 million hectares. The reserve represents 3.8% of the Cerrado area that is protected by federal legislation under the title of Federal Conservation Unity. The Management Plan document (2005) of the park states that in 1999 International Conservation published a document – “Priority Actions to the Conservation of the Biodiversity of Cerrado and Pantanal” – where Serra da Canastra National Park was considered of great conservation priority. http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/1123/