Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra launched a campaign to reforest the Machu Picchu archeological site in order to protect it from mud slides and forest fires.
Vizcarra pledged on Thursday to plant one million trees in the 35,000ha protected archaeological complex that features the stunning Inca citadel.
“We’re here to begin the planting of a million trees in the protected zone around the Machu Picchu sanctuary, ” said Vizcarra.
The Machu Picchu estate – which includes three distinct areas for agriculture, accommodation and religious ceremonies – is the Inca empire’s most iconic site, which ruled a large swathe of western South America for 100 years before the Spanish conquest in the 16th century.
Vizcarra said the ambitious target of one million trees is “a commitment from the government, the region, the municipality and all the citizens who want to protect this world wonder.”
Environment ministry specialists evoked the need to plant trees to protect not only the sanctuary but also the protected ecological area’s fauna and flora.
The area is at risk of mudslides due to heavy rainfall in winter and forest fires in summer.
However, mudslides are not the only environmental crisis Machu Picchu faces.
The historic site is also under threat from the waste left by the millions of tourists who visit the citadel each year.
It has been reported that tourists leave behind more than five tonnes of rubbish every day.
Along with the tree planting campaign, the Peruvian government has taken other measures in the last eight months to protect its most popular tourist destination.
In May, Peru announced a restriction to three key areas of the site to prevent greater degradation: the Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Condor and the Intihuatana Stone.
Back in 2017, Peru limited visitor numbers to just under 6,000 a day in two waves.
Machu Picchu, which means “old mountain” in the Quechua language indigenous to the area, is at the top of a lush mountain and was built during the reign of the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438-1471).
It lies around 100km from the Andean city of Cusco, the old Inca capital in south-eastern Peru.
It was rediscovered in 1911 by the American explorer Hiram Bingham.
Unesco declared it a World Heritage Site in 1983. – AFP