1.         Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu (Peru) (C/N 274)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1983

Criteria  (i)(iii)(vii)(ix)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/274/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1986-2001)
Total amount approved: USD 166,625
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/274/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided to the property: USD 15,000 for the social participation workshop requested by the Committee (decision 30 COM 7B.35).

Previous monitoring missions

Joint IUCN/ICOMOS mission October 1997; World Heritage Centre IUCN/ICOMOS mission October 1999; World Heritage Centre/IUCN/ICOMOS mission 25 February-1 March 2002; World Heritage Centre visit 23 October 2003; World Heritage Centre mission 15-16 April 2005; World Heritage Centre IUCN/ICOMOS mission 23 to 30 April, 2007.  

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Delays in reviewing the Master Plan and developing detailed yearly operational plans, and inadequate budgetary support;

b) No evaluation of transport options, related geological studies, or the impact of bus traffic on increasing the risk of landslides;

c) Lack of impact studies related to the carrying capacity of the Citadel and Inca Trail;

d) Delays in the development of a Public Use Plan;

e) Delays in implementing urban planning and control measures for Machu Picchu Village (Aguas Calientes);

f) Lack of proper management of the site;

g) Lack of risk management plans related to natural disasters;

h) Lack of adequate coordination of activities between institutions involved in site management;

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/274/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2007

On 30th January 2007, the World Heritage Centre received from the National Cultural Institute (INC) an annual report. Subsequently, on 15 March 2007, the Centre received from the National Natural Resources Institute (INRENA) a natural heritage annual report. This segmented approach to the reporting of this mixed site is an indicator of the ongoing lack of integrated management of the Sanctuary. A single integrated report should be presented in one of the working languages of the Convention by the Sanctuary’s Integrated Management Unit, with inputs of each of the participating institutions (INC, INRENA, Ministry of Tourism MINCETUR, and Regional Government).

The World Heritage Committee received on 26 September, 2006, a draft Risk Preparedness Plan. With respect to landslides, technical studies have only been undertaken at the citadel; No mention is made of the risk of landslides on the Hiram Bingham Road, the only vehicular access to the citadel, which has registered more than five landslides over recent months; nor has the carrying capacity of the road been evaluated. No studies have been undertaken in the high risk area that includes the slopes and river beds that converge on Machu Picchu village, and which have produced serious damage that has been increasing over the past five years. Unfortunately no risk mapping of the protected area has been undertaken either, and no analysis has been made of existing satellite photos to detect ongoing geological processes or to monitor the impact of the landslide phenomena, which has increased since glacial regression began to accelerate in 1998. No actions have been undertaken to clean the Alcamayo Riverbed, reinforce the river contention walls throughout Machu Picchu Village and environs, or to develop geological risk cartography at a proper scale. The population living in the core and buffer area have little notion of the risks they face, little cultural inclination to appreciate risk, and no respect for the application of norms and rules. Unfortunately, the existing Risk Preparedness Plan has also not been used as a tool to avoid uncontrolled construction in Machu Picchu village.

In May 2006, the World Heritage Centre requested information on the construction of the Carrilluchayoc bridge in the buffer zone of the Sanctuary, located only a few kilometres from the core zone of the property. The bridge and road are located in a geologically unstable area that is subject to landslides, and now makes possible a new, unplanned and uncontrolled vehicular access route to this very vulnerable area of the Sanctuary. The media announced the decision of the Municipal Government of Santa Teresa to build the bridge and access road last December, 2006. The World Heritage Centre sent an official letter to the Council of Ministers of Peru, and all the related Ministries and national institutions related to the preservation of the property. No official answer was received. In spite of the recommendation of the World Heritage Centre to prevent the construction until the reactive monitoring mission took place. The Centre was informed by press reports that the Regional Government of Cusco and the Representatives of the Municipalities celebrated an official opening ceremony for the bridge on 19 March, 2007.

ICOMOS noted that the INC 2006 report outlined progress achieved in managing the Citadel archaeological site, the Inka trails in the buffer and core area of the Sanctuary, and detailed some of the interventions undertaken in several Valle Sagrado archeological sites. In terms of conservation, progress has been made in (i) demarcating Sanctuary boundaries using GPS equipment; (ii) archaeological explorations and conservation works at Wiñaywayna and Choquesuysuy; (iii) maintenance activities at six archaeological groups associated with the different Inka trails and the Machu Picchu Citadel. The INC report also notes that several proposed archaeological projects were not implemented last year due to the Sistema Nacional de Inversión Pública (SNIP) budgeting procedures that have delayed approval of the funds. Unfortunately no mention was made in the report regarding implementation of the related Urban Planning project in Machu Picchu Village, or the construction of the Carrilluchayoc bridge and access road. ICOMOS is also concerned with the new road projects in the region that provide improved access to Santa Teresa, a community that is not prepared for the increasing flow of tourism. The improvement of roads in this region will facilitate bus and auto access between Cusco and Santa Teresa, and result in uncontrolled tourism development and greater numbers of tourists visiting the Sanctuary.

IUCN noted that the INRENA 2006 report covers the management of the Sanctuary’s natural resources. It notes progress in conservation. In relation to Public Use, MINCETUR developed the terms of reference and a bidding process for developing a Tourism Plan as an input into a broader Public Use Plan. In addition, the report notes (i) the development of a draft Communication Plan; (ii) the establishment of tourism baseline statistics; (iii) development of an Information Centre in Cusco; and (iv) the development of plans for a Visitor Centre in Pisqacucho at the eastern entrance of the Sanctuary. In terms of management, the report further noted (i) the development, implementation, and monitoring of the 2006 Operational Plan; (ii) the design of a proposal for alternatives for integrated management to replace the inactive General Management Unit; (iii) the implementation of a cadastral survey of land occupation in the rural areas within the Sanctuary, (iv) the development of a draft Sustainable Finance Plan; and (v) the establishment of a central library for the Sanctuary at the National University in Cusco.

INRENA’s report also notes the following unresolved issues:

a) Construction of the Carrilluchayoc access road and bridge on the western boundary of the Sanctuary without an environmental impact study or design approval, even in the face of strong opposition from the INC and INRENA, and a restraining order by the District Court of Urubamba.

b) Expansion of Machu Picchu Village beyond the boundaries that had been set, construction of buildings on the banks of the Vilcanota River, and construction of buildings in excess of three stories without the requisite Construction Licenses. This has caused grave concern over the lack of due process, the general failure of governance, increased flooding and landslide risk.

As suggested by the World Heritage Committee, Decision 30 COM 7B.35, a mission was undertaken by representatives of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and IUCN between 23 and 30 April 2007 to assess the state of conservation of the property. A participatory workshop was organized by the World Heritage Centre with the collaboration of the institutions responsible of the conservation of the Sanctuary: INRENA, INC, MINCETUR and the Regional Government of Cusco. During the mission, meetings were held with the mayors of the Urubamba District, and field visits were conducted to various key sites in the Sanctuary. These visits were complemented by several workshops in Machu Picchu Village attended by representatives from the tourist sector, police, medical services, teachers, local tourist agencies and Peru Rail staff. The continuous and chaotic population growth of Machu Picchu Village (264 % increase between 1993 and 2005 - the highest in Peru) has transformed the Village into the main threat to the World Heritage property, accentuated by new pedestrian and vehicular access points in the western part of the Sanctuary. Machu Picchu Village requires implementation of an immediate action plan so that the following issues are urgently addressed in a practical way:

- the limited space in the village which is constrained by a dramatic geography,

- the high risk due to landslides,

- the uncontrolled number and height of buildings,

- the absence of controls on properties and the quality of the construction of the buildings,

- the very limited capacity of medical and fire services for the local population and  visitors,

- the increase of solid and liquid waste without adequate disposal systems,

- the level of poverty and problems of conflict of interest.

The World Heritage Centre organized a workshop to facilitate a discussion of the Master Plan among all major stakeholders; the workshop was well attended by civil society representatives of communities of the Sacred Valley, the INC, INRENA, MINCETUR and the Regional Authority of Cusco on 28 and 29 April 2007. Some 82 institutions took part in the event. There was agreement on the urgency of undertaking the Public Use Plan through a participatory process with the stakeholders of the core and buffer zones of the Sanctuary. Risk assessment and preparedness is one of the most immediate concerns.

The mission representatives share the INC, INRENA’s, and MINCETUR’s concern about the construction of the Carrilluchayoc road and bridge and the uncontrolled growth of Machu Picchu Village Of particular concern is the growing crisis in governance and due process, and increasing risk to visitors and residents.

The mission noticed with concern:

a) the lack of progress in developing a Public Use Plan and the consequent delays in the identification and analysis of alternatives for transport and access, diversification of visitor attractions and activities, and decongestion of Machu Picchu Village and the Machu Picchu Citadel;

b) the failure of the General Management Unit governance mechanism in achieving integrated management of the Sanctuary and the participation of all stakeholders in the development and review of the Sanctuary Master Plan;

c) the lack of effective measures to mitigate landslides, the danger of building collapse, unsanitary conditions, fire potential, and social dysfunction at Machu Picchu Village; and

d) the diminishing control of access to the Sanctuary, and the absence of authoritative information for visitors and tourism operators regarding (a) the severity of risks associated with overnight stays in Machu Picchu village, and (b) the level of difficulty and risks associated with use of the alternative trails and access points to the Sanctuary.

Of the several concerns outlined above, two are particularly time sensitive and require immediate emergency action. These are (a) the new western access from Santa Teresa made possible by the illegally constructed Carrilluchayoc road and bridge, and (b) authoritative information for visitors regarding the considerable risks associated with overnight stays at Machu Picchu Village. Therefore, a Participatory Emergency Strategy for Control of the Western Access must be developed and implemented to address the following:

a) The maintenance of options for a properly designed western access to the Sanctuary that takes into account landslide risks, safety concerns, landscape integrity, functionality, and the legitimate interests of associated communities;

b) The hiking of backpackers along the railroad line connecting the EGEMSA Hydrolectrical Station with Machu Picchu Village, in the immediate proximity of the core zone of the Sanctuary;

c) The proliferation of makeshift shanties for the sale of food and beverages to backpackers;

d) The conversion of the train terminus at EGEMSA into a marketplace and parking lot for vehicles transporting backpackers to and from Santa Teresa;

e) The location of the INRENA Entrance Station next to the EGEMSA powder magazine and the official security measures that should be applied;

f) The extension of tourism developments from Machu Picchu Village along the rail line to EGEMSA;

g) The installation of makeshift residences, restaurants, hotels, campgrounds, and mini stores along the road from Santa Teresa to the EGEMSA train terminal;

h) The national and regional road development plans (Ollantaytambo, Abra Málaga, Quillabamba, Santa Teresa, Vilcabamba, Choquequirao) that could negatively affect the integrity and authenticity of the Sanctuary.

The instability of governance arrangements and due process demonstrated by the successful completion and use of the illegal Carrilluchayoc road and bridge make it absolutely essential to prevent squatting along the new road, and at the EGEMSA train terminal. Once it occurs it will most likely be impossible to reverse, and all prospects for an orderly development process for this access route will have been lost forever. The prospect of conversion of the current rail bed from EGEMSA to Machu Picchu village into a vehicular access road is the worst possible scenario of all, and must be avoided at all costs.

National plans to develop new road systems, and pave existing routes in the buffer zone of the Sanctuary, increasing vehicular transportation registered between Santa Teresa and EGEMSA/Machu Picchu Village, the increasing number of visitors and the lack of controlled access could make it impossible, in a very short time, to achieve proper management, thereby endangering the Outstanding Universal Values of the property. Should there be a lack of immediate progress in establishing and carrying out the Participatory Emergency Strategy for Control of the Western Access to monitor and mitigate the quickly developing pressures on the Sanctuary, the World Heritage Committee may be compelled to consider the inclusion of the site on the List of World Heritage in danger. The other emergency measure required is to develop and implement in the shortest time possible a public information program in several languages to advise visitors and tourism operators of the very real landslide, fire, building failure, and health risks associated with overnight stays at Machu Picchu Village. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies


Decision Adopted: 31 COM 7B.45

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-07/31.COM/7B.Add.2,

2. Recalling Decision 30 COM 7B.35, adopted at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2007),

3. Requests the State Party to submit a single integrated annual report for this mixed site, as of 2007, in one of the working languages of the Convention;

4. Takes note of the many advances made by INC and INRENA in implementing the Master Plan, particularly with respect to reforestation, fire control, monitoring of key species, management of the main Inca trail, cadastral surveys, information and communication, rehabilitation of the botanical garden, maintenance of the citadel, reintroduction of native plants, development of a site museum and awareness programmes for children;

5. Further notes:

a) the ineffectiveness of the Integrated Sanctuary Management Unit,

b) the uncontrolled growth of Machu Picchu Village accompanied by an ever-increasing level of risks from landslides, fires, structural failure, health threats, and social crisis,

c) the absence of a public use plan and associated analysis of access and risks,

d) the difficulties in getting budgetary approval for maintenance work on the archaeological structures of the Sanctuary, and

e) the lack of control of the western access to the property;

6. Expresses its deep concern about the consequences of the construction of the Carrilluchayoc bridge and the access road in the buffer and core zone of the Sanctuary and the lack of due process and governance related to this issue, and also requests the State Party, as per Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, to submit any project proposal that could affect the values of the site, to be submitted for evaluation to the Advisory Bodies;

7. Urges the State Party to take immediate action to act upon the serious consequences of the recent landslides, and to finalize by 1 February 2008, and begin implementation of a comprehensive Risk Preparedness Plan with adequate budget, as outlined in the recommendations proposed by the 2007 mission report;

8. Takes note of the positive results of the Cusco Workshop, commends the major stakeholders and national institutions for developing a common vision towards the future and further requests the State Party to submit an official response to the recommendations outlined by the Cusco Workshop;

9. Also urges the State Party to give priority to the reorganization of the Sanctuary Integrated Management Unit and consequently requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 30 September 2007 an updated Annual Operations Plan prepared by the Management Unit;

10. Encourages the State Party to undertake the actions required to develop and implement the above mentioned Participatory Emergency Strategy for Control of the Western Access and to address the concerns and threats outlined in the mission report, and to submit a draft Strategy document by 30 November 2007 to be evaluated by the Advisory Bodies;

11. Invites the State Party to produce and widely distribute by 30 November 2007, authoritative information for visitors and tour operators regarding the considerable risks associated with overnight stays at Machu Picchu Village;

12. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2008, a detailed report on the state of conservation of the property and the progress made in the implementation of the recommendations of the 2007 mission report for examination by the Committee at its 32nd session in 2008.