Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu
IUCN MANAGEMENT CATEGORY
VI (Managed Resource Protected Area)
Natural / Cultural World Heritage Site - Natural Criteria
ii, iii / Cultural Criteria i, iii
The site is located on the
highest part of the eastern Andes, above the Rio Urubamba and northwest of
Cusco (Cusco Department). The park is accessible by road or by rail from
the lower valley and then bus or car to the ruins. 13°10'S, 72°33'W
DATE AND HISTORY OF ESTABLISHMENT
Created as a
historical sanctuary (Santuario Histórico) on 8 January 1981, under Law
(Supreme Resolution) DS 001-81-AA. Inscribed on the World Heritage List in
Private ownership (property of four
main "predios": Mandorpampa, Q'ente, Torontoy and Santa Rita de
ALTITUDE Ranges from 1,800 m. to 3,800 m. above sea level.
The site lies in the Selva Alta
zone, and includes part of a highly dissected mountain massif of the high
Andes plateau, which rises steeply from the Urubamba River valley. The
area around the ruins of Machu Picchu consists of many rocky pinnacles
with exposures supporting thin soils, although the area also includes
sites with complex systems of old Inca terraced land constructed to
conserve the soils. The Urubamba alluvial basin is an almost continuous
zone of arable and pastoral farming land. Geologically the area is very
complex, being a combination of marine sedimentary rocks of the
Cretaceous-Tertiary period and intrusive volcanic material, including
lavas and granites. The sedimentary deposits include Ordovician schists,
slates and quartzite. Streams and rivers feed the major Rio Urubamba
valley system as well as a number of smaller valleys in the north such as
that of Quillabamba (MAA, 1986).
The annual temperature averages 16°C and
annual rainfall is between 1500 mm and 3000 mm at low altitudes. At 2,500
altitude the average temperature drops to 10.2°C, and annual rainfall is
2170 mm. The dry season lasts from May to September and the wet season from
October to April.
The site has been influenced by man for
many centuries, leading to a combination of man-made habitats, paramo
grassland, Polylepis thickets, partially degraded virgin forest and
former cultivated land which has reverted back to forest or scrub. At
lower altitudes, patches of woodland predominate, their extent being
dependant upon past human interference, especially during the Inca period.
The vegetation rises from the dry subtropical forest along the river
valleys to the very humid low montane forest. Trees represented in the
denser woodland include locally endangered mahogany Swietenia
macrophylla and species of the following genera; Ceder,
Podocarpus (the only conifer in Peru), Lauraceae Ocotea,
Cunoniaceae Weinmannia, Nectandra and Cecropia. A
number of tree ferns are present, including Cyathea sp. and also
palms such as Geromoina sp., Guasca sp. and Riupala
sp. (MAA, 1981). Reeds Phragmites sp., willow and alder occur
around rivers and streams, whilst open grassland, low shrubs and scattered
thickets of Polylepis sp. and bamboo are found close to the ruins
(Parker et al, 1982). The high altitude subalpine paramo
includes many Graminae, Festuca sp., Stipa sp. and
Puya sp. such as P. raimondii (I). The mountain ridges are
characterised by bamboo Gaudua sp. (Parker et al.,
Mammals include otter Lutra
longicaudis, dwarf brocket deer Mazama chunyii,
long-tailed weasel Mustela frenata, Pampas cat Felis
colocolo and ocelot Felis pardalis. One of the most threatened
species found within the area is spectacled bear Tremarctos ornatus
(V) (Jorgenson, 1982). The bird community includes Andean condor Vultur
gryphus and Andean cock-of-the-rock Rupicola peruviana. Low
altitude areas and agricultural fields are characterised by the presence
of mountain caracaras Phalcobaenus megalopterus and Andean lapwing
Vanellus resplendus, whilst red-backed hawk Buteo polysoma,
American kestrel Falco sparverius, speckled teal Anas
flavirostris and Andean gull Larus serranus. Torrent duck
Merganetta armata, white-capped dipper Cinclus leucocephalus
and fasciated tiger-heron Tigrisoma lineatum are found in narrow
stream valleys are associated with riverside trees. Species around the
ruins include black-tailed trainbearer Lesbia victoriae,
white-winged black-tyrant Knipolegus aterrimus, tufted tit tyrant
Anairetes alpinus, cinereous conebill Conirostrum cinereum,
blue-capped tanager Thraupis cyanocephala and rufous-collared
sparrow Zonotrichia capensis. In addition, a new species of
wren Thryothorus has been observed in the bamboo thickets (Parker
et al., 1982). Snakes such as Boa sp. are present and
there are numerous lizards and frogs in the damper areas.
The park was established to
protect the landscape of the renowned Machu Picchu archaeological site,
founded by the Inca culture. It is thought that it was a royal Inca
residence and was perhaps the centre for collecting coca from surrounding
plantations. The site eventually fell into ruin, was covered by the
encroaching forest, and 'lost to science' until re-discovery in 1911.
There are also the remains of the Inca Way in the area, and local legends,
including that of the spectacled bear, which is thought to serve as a
messenger between the spirits of the high elevations and those of the
jungle (Anon, 1981).
LOCAL HUMAN POPULATION
Much of the park area is
settled with many small campesino communities and farms especially on the
lower slopes. The original inhabitants were skilled in irrigation and
built terraces and drainage which extend long distances across irregular
ground. Agriculture (maize and barley) and livestock grazing (llamas,
cattle and sheep) are the dominant economic activities and occur in over
20,000ha of the park. The local economy is also supported by tourists
visiting the Inca ruins (MAA, 1981; Peyton, 1983). The nearby city of Cusco
was the Inca capital and still remains an important town with over
105,000 inhabitants. It is the administrative and commercial centre for a
considerable part of the Urubamba basin (INRENA, pers. comm., 1995).
VISITORS AND VISITOR FACILITIES
In the mid 1980s,
some 180,000 people annually visited the Inca Trail and the ruins. More
recently, the figure has risen to 300,000, including 7,000 on the Inca
trails (Ferreyros, 1988). Accommodation includes a hotel and camping
facilities. A museum exists at the ruins and there are plans to develop
the area further for tourism.
SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH AND FACILITIES
research has been undertaken on the ecology of the spectacled bear in
cooperation with the New York Zoological Society (Peyton, 1982).
Vegetation transects have been undertaken, and over 4,500 herbarium
specimens have been collected. Numerous bird studies have been made
(Parker et al., 1982).
This urban creation of the Inca
Empire, which appears to have been naturally cut in the continuous rock
escarpment, is an area of outstanding natural beauty which encompasses
patches of high altitude habitats and associated wildlife. The site also
harbours populations of the threatened spectacled bear.
- Anon. (1988). Fire reaps havoc in wildlife sanctuary.
Animals international. VIII/27. p4.
- Anon. (1988b). Fire claim jungle bears. The Guardian
newspaper. 17 August, 1988. p5.
- Dourojeanni, M.J. (1985). Management problems in the
Andean National Parks and protected areas of Peru. In The Hindu
Kush-Himalaya. Kathmandu: King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation
and the International Centre for integrated mountain development
- Ferreyros, A. (1988). Situación actual de los Parques
Nacionales y Otras Unidades de Conservación en El Perú. Asociación de
Ecología y Conservación.
- Jorgenson, J.P (1982). Peru report. Spectacled bear
specialist group Newsletter 3. 6-8.
- Jorgenson, J.P (1983). Peru field report. Spectacled
bear specialist group Newsletter 4. 11-12.
- MAA (1981). Lista de información actualizada sobre
unidades de conservación. Ministerio de Agricultura y Alimentación,
Lima. Report. 2pp
- Parker, T.A. (1980). Notes on little known birds of the
upper Urubamba Valley, southern Peru. Auk 97: 167-176.
- Parker, T.A. and J.P. O'Neill (1976). An introduction to
bird-finding in Peru: Part II. The Carpish Pass Region of the Eastern
Andes along the Central Highway. Birding 8: 205-216.
- Parker, T.A., Parker, S.A. and Plenge, M.A. (1982). An
annotated checklist of Peruvian birds. Buteo books, Vermillion,
- Peru (1981). Machu Picchu. World Heritage
- Peyton, B. (1983). Spectacled bear habitat use in the
historical sanctuary of Machu Picchu and adjacent areas. Abstract of
paper presented at the 6th international conference on bear research and
management, presented by the Bear Biology Association, The Grand Canyon
Squire Inn, Arizona, February 18-22.
- Plan COPESCO (1974) Machu Picchu Report and plan.
Centro de Servicios del Parque Nacional Machu Picchu. 114 pp
DATE August 1987, revised May 1989, September 1989
and May 1990, August 1995
UNEP World Conservation
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