Cabo Orange (Orange Cape) National Park (CONP) is located near Calçoene and Oiapoque cities in northern Amapá state, 450 km from Macapá, the capital city. The park shares the northern border with French Guiana, the southern border with Cunani Quilombola (Afro-descendant) Area, the eastern border with the Atlantic Ocean and the western border with both Vila Velha Settlement Project and Uaçá and Juminã Indigenous Lands whose populations disputed their territories with Portuguese, French, English and Dutch invaders.
It was the Dutch who named the local geographic feature Orange Cape (as orange is the national colour in the Netherlands) to pay a tribute to the Dutch royalty.
The park was decreed in 1980 (decree n° 84.913) and the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (a federal agency run by the Ministry of Environment) is in charge of managing it.
It was the first protected area decreed in Amapá, a state where 55% of its territory is covered by protected areas and indigenous lands. Along with 4 other national parks (Tumucumaque Mountains, Monte Roraima, Pico da Neblina and Serra do Divisor), CNOP is part of the Brazilian Amazon border national parks.
The park covers 657,318 hectares of coastal ecosystems, 54.64% of which has been defined as primitive zone (358,760 hectares), 20.82% as intensive use zone (100,891 hectares) and 20.15% as temporary occupation zone (119,366 hectares). The rest of CNOP covers a zone superimposed on indigenous lands, a conflicting use zone, a special use zone and a historical and cultural zone.
The primitive zone is the most pristine and its flora and fauna has great scientific value. The extensive use zone is mostly formed by natural areas that might have modified by human action. Human populations are settled in the temporary occupation zone.
By integrating human communities living around the park, CONP´s objectives are:
To preserve natural ecosystems that has great ecological and scenic values;
To preserve marine and coastal areas, mangroves, forests, amazon cerrado (savanna) enclaves and associated fauna;
To maintain natural habitats that have been little impacted by human action;
To promote scientific research, environmental education and interpretation, tourism and recreation.
The achievement of these targets has reflected in the excellent conservation status of CONP, allowing the preservation and reproduction of bird, reptile and mammal species, many of which are threatened with extinction. The park preserves species such as: the scarlet ibis (Eudocimus ruber), the American flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber), the green turtle (Chelonia mydas), the great egret (Ardea alba), the jaguar (Panthera onca), the puma (Puma concolor), the oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus), the neotropical otter (Lontra longicaudis), the giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata), the giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus), the South American manatee (Trichechus inunguis) and the West indian manatee (Trichechus manatus).
The most common types of vegetation found in CONP and influenced by Atlantic Ocean tides are mangroves, flooded forests, flooded grasslands, grassland savannas and red and yellow mangroves. In grassland plains, the awnless barnyard grass (Echinochloa colona), the buriti (Mauritia flexuosa), the caimbé (Curatella americana) and the tamamuri (Brosimum acutifolium) can be found. Other species found are the siriúba (Avicennia schaueriana), the periquiteiro (Trema micrantha), the andiroba (Carapa guianensis), the açaí (Euterpe oleracea), the maçaranduba (Manilkara salzmannii), the black manwood (Minquartia guianensis) and the quaruba (Vochysia maxima).
Brazil is a contracting party to the Convention on Wetlands of international importance especially as waterfowl habitat, called the Ramsar Convention, and has decided to submit as new Ramsar designations only wetlands that were protected areas, which allows to country to implement the commitments under the Convention. CONP was therefore submitted and was declared a Ramsar site in February 2013. 11 other Brazilian wetlands are Ramsar sites.
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* Article originally written in portuguese by Marcelo Carota, translated by Marco Bueno and published on 21st January 2015.