Hundreds of protesters are trying to halt the ongoing construction of four ziplines aimed at boosting tourism in Rio de Janeiro.
1. Zipline project
The city of Rio de Janeiro is planning to install four steel ziplines that will run 755 meters over the forest between Sugarloaf (Pao de Açúcar) and Urca Hill, offering riders the adrenaline of speeding at 100 km/h.
There is a cable car for visitors wanting to go from Pao de Açúcar to Urca or vice-versa. This system has been in place for over a century and it starts at a height of 396 meters, dropping to 220 meters.
The project is expected to be operational for the second half of this year but locals have spoken against the new tourist attraction and an online petition to stop it has been signed by almost 11,000 people.
Protesters say expanding the current facilities on the mountaintops will impact the area’s fauna and flora, not only because of the construction but also because of the increase in footfall.
It’s a natural beauty, it’s contemplative, it doesn’t need anything else that isn’t already up there, toilets, water fountains, bars, small shops. It doesn’t need more than that.Aurimar dos Prazeres, President of the Urca Residents Association
2. UNESCO World Heritage
On March 26, protesters gathered at the base of the iconic mountain helding up banners reading “SOS UNESCO” and “Out with zip lines”.
“It is not right and it harms the city,” said local Gricel Osorio Hor-Meyll, quoted by Euronews. Hor-Meyll explained that the project will “disfigure” the UNESCO World Heritage Site, which stretches from the coastal mountain inland to other Rio icons such as Christ the Redeemer (Corcovado).
Locals are concerned that an even bigger project, under evaluation by the authorities, may become a reality, saying that the zipline project is just “the tip of the iceberg”. The new project includes the construction of attractions, shops, a performance hall and a nightclub at the top of the two peaks, which currently receive 1.6 million visitors a year.
“[The zipline] has nothing to do with the original idea of visiting the Sugarloaf,” said Aurimar dos Prazeres, President of the Urca Residents Association.
The company operating the cable cars, Parque Bondinho Pāo de Açúcar is the same behind the zipline project. The Brazilian company says it has obtained all the necessary permits for the project and argues it will drive tourism.