Take advantage of the search to browse through the World Heritage Centre information.

Landscape Reserve Sub Cuenca del Cotahuasi

Date of Submission: 05/08/2019
Criteria: (vii)(viii)
Category: Natural
Submitted by:
Ministry of Culture
State, Province or Region:
Province La Unión, Region Arequipa
Coordinates: S15 05 03 W72 55 25
Ref.: 6423

The Tentative Lists of States Parties are published by the World Heritage Centre at its website and/or in working documents in order to ensure transparency, access to information and to facilitate harmonization of Tentative Lists at regional and thematic levels.

The sole responsibility for the content of each Tentative List lies with the State Party concerned. The publication of the Tentative Lists does not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever of the World Heritage Committee or of the World Heritage Centre or of the Secretariat of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its boundaries.

Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party


The canyon of the Cotahuasi River and its evolutionary formation in South America's Andes, is the central axis of the province of La Union, department of Arequipa, in the basin of the river with the same name. The lower part, at its confluence with the Arma and Marán rivers, forms the Ocoña River (second largest of the 53 rivers in the Peruvian Pacific Basin) at an altitude above sea level of around 900 m which highest peak is 6093 m in the Mount Solimana. This wide altitudinal range in a relatively small area (4 905 Km2) favors the presence of a variety of geoforms (19 geomorphological units) being most important  the Mounts massifs of the volcanic Cadena Neo (Volcanoes Solimana, Firula, Huajrahuire, Sapojahuana, and Chulluni), the Andean Altiplanicie (Cordillera de Solimana and Huanzo) and the Cotahuasi River canyon which descends vertiginously to coastal desert plains.


According to a study on the cannon made between 1991 and 1994 by the geographical research center Carlos Lisoson (CIGCALI) of the Faculty of Geographical Engineering of the National University Federico Villareal, headed by the Director of this expedition, James Posso Sanchez, the depth of the Cotahuasi canyon was verified, taking as reference the lowest point of the walls of the Acallase hill, 5 035 m.a.s.l., and the point that drains the river at 1 500 m.a.s.l. perpendicular, reaching a cut of 3 535 linear meters, placing it as one of the deepest canyons on the planet.

Citing Taylor et. Al (2010), the Geological, Mining and Metallurgical Peruvian Institute – INGEMMET shows that in many regions of the world, deeply incised canyons demonstrate the net effects of active physical processes on the surface of the Earth in response to surface elevation, where the reconstruction and topographic evolution through geologic time can help to understand the complex relationships between tectonic forces, climate change, chemical and physical variations, erosion and their resulting effects on a landscape.

Geologically, 24 stratigraphic units constituted by metamorphic, sedimentary and volcanic-sedimentary rocks are recognized, ranging from the Pre Cambrian to the Recent Quaternary. The oldest rocks that emerge in the sector of the canyon correspond to metamorphic rocks of the Basal Complex of the Coast or Macizo from Arequipa, composed of phyllites and gray gneiss with greenish tonalities (1 500 million years).

On the other hand, we find also in the sectors of Toro and Charcana of the canyon, collapsed sedimentary sequences of the Jurassic-Cretaceous (65 to more than 200 million years old) that correspond to the Yura Group composed of sandstones in thin strata, shales, shales carbonaceous and limestone and quartzite; the Murco Formation (white and reddish sandstones with layers of gypsum and variegated salt) in the sector of Cañon, Huarhua, and Charcana; the Arcurquina Formation (massive gray limestones in thick strata with fossils of ammonites and bivalves) exposed in the valley area facing Tomepampa, Taurisma, and also in the Pampamarca and Cotahuasi sector.

A large part of the Landscape Reserve is composed of lava and pyroclastic volcanic rocks, these being the Tacaza del Eocene Group (dark gray andesitic lavas and well-stratified gray tuffs (24 to 65 million years); Miocene Alpabamba Formation (White lapilli tuffs) well stratified, pink ignimbrites, tuffs, and sands reworked) 5.3 to 24 million years, Sencca Formation (friable tuffs with well-stratified lithics and biotites, Barroso Group, gray lavas, from the Solimana volcano stratum) Andagua, with more recent lavas correlated with Andagua Volcanoes (Firura stratovolcano and monogenetic cones such as the Kiura). The alluvial deposits, moraines, fluvioglacial and gravitational or colluvio-deluvial deposits of rocks avalanches and bofedales areas are covered the old sequences.

Cotahuasi is home of an important geological diversity specially at the level of volcanic units (lava and pyroclastic), with geomorphological-volcanic and cultural-archaeological sites that are summarized in:

Volcanic Geomorphological Domain: Basalt-andesitic lavas, andesitic lavas, pyroclastic flows of blocks and ashes, ignimbrites, tephra deposits and avalanche deposits of rocks of volcanic origin, generate mountain geoforms with steep fronts, plateaus or volcanic plains or isolated, lava fields of strata-volcanoes lavas and monogenetic volcanoes. The most recent volcanism is associated with the strata-volcano Firura. An imposing aspect highlight a plain or fluvioglaciar terrace of sinter in the Ocorurro/Sumana River sector with thermal presence (thermal field with geyser and springs).

Geomorphological-gravitational domain: Deposits of mass movements with valley closures (section of the Huarcaya river between Alca-Puyca-Churca-Chilcayllapa); lower basin in the Andamarca-Charcana sectors (landslides and minor avalanches); sector Velinga-Quechuaya (slopes colvio-deluviales and landslides, the latter greatly affected sectors of the Inca roads and agricultural areas (platforms). The generation of scarps is associated in some cases to the lithological nature as the case of Huarhua (sedimentary units with presence of salt).

Geomorphological-glacial domain: Principal snow-mountains Solimana and Firura, With glacial-fluvial slopes and moraines, cirques or amphitheaters of glacial erosion, hanging valleys, areas with glacial polishing and erratic blocks and lagoons that extend into the heights of Tomepampa, Alca, Churca and Puyca.

Human occupation domain: Cotahuasi high basin; establishment of prehispanic man with the presence of stone citadels (Maucallacta-Puyca); Large area of agricultural production in Puyca, Pettcce, Suni, Mucchuancca, Huactapa, and Churca Sectors. Lower-middle basin with Andean terrain between Velinga and Quechualla, conserved sections of the Inca trail (both sides of the Cotahuasi canyon).

The geomorphological-volcanic and cultural-archaeological domain that Cotahuasi sub-basin presents goes beyond what is traditionally known. They can be summarized among the follow aspects found:

  • Antapuna Volcano: Monogenetic adjacent to the buffer zone of Cotahuasi Landscape Reserve, route to the Alparcocha Lagoon, which also exhibits and adjacent volcanic dome and the Firura volcano stratum to the north, as main geological elements.
  • Valley-Canyon between Cahuana-Ayahuasi: Canyon of the Chococo River that crosses volcanic rocks with landscapes of erosion geoforms (windows), waterfalls, and presence of thermal waters (Ucos and Shihuamayo). Paved road between Alca-Cahuana, Alca-Ayahuasi, as well as conserved sections of the Inca road that connect to Orcopampa (to the east) and Puyca (to the north).
  • Paleontological elements: Species of marine fossils found on the slope of Ccacahuacho hill (Toro), in the limestones of the Arcurquina Formation, reveal the presence of Cretaceous marine fauna.
  • Huarhua and its pre-Hispanic salt mine: Village with cobblestone streets (lavas and ignimbrites del Tacaza), which form a volcanic terrace on which Huarhua sits. Murco formation with salt levels exploited since pre-Hispanic times. Presence of water falls and landslides or avalanches caused by the susceptibility in these two sedimentary layers.

Ecosystems and biodiversity:

In the Cotahuasi canyon, due to its formation and evolution in the South America Andes, there are three well-defined and represented Biogeographic Regions: 1) the Subtropical Pacific Desert, 2) the Southern Subtropical Andes, and 3) the Subtropical Puna, in accordance with the classification of the Data Center for Conservation of the National University of Agraria La Molina (CDC-UNALM) in 1986, based on Udvardy (1975). In this mosaic of provinces and biogeographical regions, there are 12 life zones of the 84 that Peru has and the 104 of the world, which in their interior harbor an important diversity of ecosystems that go from deserts without vegetation, stands of cacti columnar, dry, semi-dry and humid shrublands, grasslands, and grass of height and Andean slopes, as well as relict forest of arboreal species, between bofedales, peat bogs and tolares, in the middle of dry to wet points. Some of these ecosystems are considered fragile and priority for their conservation, in accordance with Peruvian regulations.

Although the diversity of ecosystems and habitats covers a varied range that goes from coastal deserts to high Andean humid forests, some have been prioritized because of their ecological and biological processes:

Rocks of columnar cacti: Ecosystem integrated by the presence of plant species of the Cactaceae family in shallow soils and where water resources are scarce. The fauna related to this ecosystem is made up of bird species such as the endemic "canastero de los cactus", "hummingbirds" and "bats" (nectarivorous and insectivorous), which can be visited by "foxes", "aguiluchos" and other predators such as Owls. In the proposed area it could find the following rocks of columnar cacti:

  • Rock of columnar cacti from Judiopampa between Quechualla and Velinga (Quechualla district), where the species Weberbauerocereus rauhii “sanki", Neoraimondia arequipensis "sapan warmi", Browningia viridis "judiosanki" and some specimens of the genus Haageocereus.
  • Rock of cacti from Sanki, Huachuy (Toro district), where Corryocactus brevistylus "sancayo" is the characteristic species.
  • Rock of cacti from Sabilapampa and Huayrapunco in Chusacay (Charcana distric) with Melocactus peruvianus species "sinsil-frutilla or uma-uma", Neoraimondia arequipensis "sapan warmi" mainly, however we can also register Weberbauerocereus rauhii "sanki" and Browningia viridis "judiosanki".

One of the plant-animal relationships most fascinating is that of pollination, which in this case is presented as the product of the coevolution of an endemic and threatened bat of the Pacific desert (Platalina genivensium) and the columnar cactuses considered as chiropterophily (white flowers that open their petals mainly at night). The reproduction, presence and abundance of these cacti depend almost entirely on the pollination Longirostro Bat (P. geovensium), which still has healthy populations in the canyon, in comparison with other areas of its distribution in which it suffers pressure due to its extraction as a natural medicine or the closing of abandoned tunnels that it uses as a refuge.

Forest: They are represented by relic patches dominated by tree species adapted to extreme climatic conditions (high altitudes, low temperatures and strong winds). They can be conformed by a single species or associated with others. The most representative forest is the queñua relicts, where the dominant species is Polylepis sp. (species of three that grows at higher altitude in the world). In the proposed area, "queñua" forests are associated with other species such as Gynoxis longifolia "toqare" which in turn has strongly associated species such as the Blue Dacnis (Xenodacnis parina) and some members of the Furnariidae family. These forests can be observed in the localities of Huachuy (Toro), Andamarca (Charcana), Sayla-Tauría, Cahuana (Alea) and Puyca. It is in this last locality that the area and threatened Torito de Pecho Cenizo (Anairetes alpinus) was registered.

Rocky slopes: It is found on the steep slopes, in some parts of the rocky slope the soil allows the growth of shrubs and herbs, while in the rocks grow lithophyte species of the family of bromeliads, such as "puyas". Rodents such as the Lagidium peruvianum "vizcacha" also make use of this ecosystem and its rare and threatened predator Leopardus jacobita "wilcat", in addition to raptors such as Geranoetus melanoleucus.

A plant formation that occurs in the ecosystem of rocks slopes are the Puya raimondii "Puya de Raimondi or titanka". It is the largest species in the family of bromeliads that has developed due to the location conditions of the slopes with respect to winds and water courses. In the province it has been found associated with bushes and trees such as Buddleja coriacea "k´olle". Species of hummingbirds are related to this species, like the largest hummingbird in the world (Patagona gigas), since its inflorescence can contain several hundred flowers. The main stands of Puya are located in the nucleus in the towns of Lauripampa, Churca and Chincayllapa in the district of Puyca and Huaynacotas in the district of the same name. It is on these slopes that semi-humid thickets occur where new species are registered for the Arequipa region, such as Myiarchus tuberculifer or Lepthastenura sinkta.

Bofedales: They are high Andean wetlands, considered as unique and fragile ecosystems, characterized by the presence of a species of the reed family Distichia muscoides "kunkuma", also the Rosaceae Alchemilla pinnata "sullu-sullu", Alchemilla diplophylla "trebol" and other associated species such as Calamagrostis rigescens "tullu-tullu" and Werneria pygmaea. Among the species of fauna that are registered in this ecosystem are mainly birds habitat specialists (e.g. Phegornis mitchellii) and migratory. In the proposed area, this type of unique ecosystem has been identified in the localities of Alca, Pampamarca, Huaynacotas and Puyca. The possession of these wetlands is managed by the settlers who use the area for livestock grazing (camelid and sheep).

Rivers: In this ecosystem you can see species of aquatic plants such as Myriophyllum quitense and Ranunculus "golden button", also, wildlife such as native and introduced fish (trout), crustaceans and bird species such as Merganetta armatta "duck of the torrents" and Cinclus leucocephalus "white-headed churrete". The best characteristics of the Cotahuasi sub-basin, where the services they provide are also born. Therefore, it is considered an important area for conservation, giving a greater water quality to the Pampamarca, Huarcaya rivers, Sumana whose main consumers are the inhabitants and the local fauna.

The lower part of the Cotahuasi River is home to the endangered "sea otter" that flees from the hunt, finding an adequate habitat for its survival, despite the 150 km distance from the sea, which can even reproduce according to the inhabitants of the valley. In this way, the Cotahuasi River, in the deepest part of the canyon, is presented as a refuge that has not yet been considered within the national conservation strategy of this charismatic species.

Lagoons: They are complex ecosystems, where the conditions of their beds will determine the presence of greater or lesser vegetation such as Myriophyllum quitense, Ranunculus and Lemna. The larger number of resident and migratory birds that this aquatic ecosystem can harbor makes its conservation important. In the area there are the most representative lagoons: Ecma, Huanzo 1, Huanzo 2, Paniura and Alpalcocha.

The inventories of the biota that began to be developed in 1997, recognize that Cotahuasi Canyon of the western slopes of the South American Andes, has a great diversity at the level of species and genetic values. The inventions as they were completed, showed that it was a sub-basin with values that should be studied and at the same time conserved.

Thus, nowadays, 164 bird species have been inventoried including new records for southwestern Peru and including one family (Grallariidae). Several endemic species from the western Andes, some of them threatened nationally and internationally and several rare, including taxa not yet described (Asthenes sp.) and with research priority. There are 9 endemic species: Plyonymus caroli, Metallura phoebe, Colaptes articollis, Pseudasthenes cactorum, Sicalis raimondii, Poospiza Caesar and Atlapetes nationi. Most of these species use the scrub as places of nesting, shelter and feeding.

Pseudasthenes cactorum is an important specie that besides being endemic to Peru and having a patchy distribution, has been little studied and not much is known about its biology and ecology. He is usually in stands of cactus bushes stockniled branches and thorns to develop their characteristic nests shaped baskets installed between phylloclades of cactus.  

There are species that fulfill specific functions in an ecosystem,which qualifies them as keys. The species of hummingbirds Polyonymus caroli and Metallura phoebe fulfill the function of pollination in the scrub ecosystem. Predatory birds considered for their size, permanence and relative abundance, contribute to the control of rodents and other exhibit constant hunting pressures for ceremonial purposes.

Into the group of mammals, recent evaluation has increased the number od species, recognized for the Landscape Reserve, from 31 to 41 species, with important records such as the presence of the sea otter (Lontra felina) in the Andes (up to 150km away from de sea), an important diversity of rodents (14 species) and chiroptera (12 species) and the 4 South American camelids among the main species, among which almost half, are in some category of threat.  

Of the total mammal species, none of them is endemic, however there are species that can be categorized as almost endemic since their distribution is wider in Peru; a clear example is the bat Platalina genovensium whose populations extend from the north of Piura to the south of Tacna, this wide range made to affirm the endemism for Peru, nevertheless individual records of the species in the northern zone of Chile put it as almost endemic for Peru until the existence of established populations in the neighboring country is determined. This nectarivorous species fulfills an important role in the ecosystem of cactus stands, since it contributes to the pollination process, likewise, the species of the families Vespertilionidae and Molossidae of the order Chiroptera are considered key in the ecosystems due to the abundant consumption that They make of flying insects mainly, being the biggest nocturnal predators of these invertebrates. The main pressures, on these animals, are the prejudices that some inhabitants have on these animals, so they are eliminated or used in rituals for quackery.

Carnicorous mammals such as the foxes Lycalopex culpaeus and L. griseus, the puma Puma concolor and the cats Leopardus colocolo and Leopardus jacobitus, are considered key, because they are predators of rodents and invertebrates acting as natural controllers of these species. Particularly, the fox, which sometimes consumes fruits, is an important dispersing agent of seeds of various plant species.

Finally, and not least, the guanaco Lama guanicoe is concluded as a key species, as it is an herbivorous species that disperses and creates patches of vegetation around its dunghills.

Although the species described above are not endemic, they are important pieces for the balance of an ecosystem.

Another important species is the marine otter Lontra felina that when threatened in the sea travels more than 170 km to take refuge in the waters of the Cotahuasi River, where the Sipia waterfall could become the natural barrier of this aquatic mammal. Although this is a kind of solitary for fishermen who extract hydrobiological resources (fish and shrimp).

The group of amphibians, reptiles and fish, although it has small numbers of species, has important records that include probable new species for science not yet described (eg. Epictia sp., Liolaemus sp., Telmatobius sp.), Which are probably vulnerable or endangered like Telmatobius sp., which was very abundant two decades ago and is no longer registered in the only known location of its distribution in the upper part of the canyon. The fishes include several native species whose taxonomic status is not yet defined and which show a very localized distribution (eg. Orestias sp. And Trichomycterus sp.) That still occupy bodies of water in the Landscape Reserve, despite the presence of several introduced species. In these three groups of vertebrates are typical Andean genera of wide speciation and with restricted distribution ranges (Liolaemus, Orestias).

It is important to mention that in the proposed area have been registered, according to Supreme Decree No. 004-2014-MINAGRI approving the categorization of endangered species of wildlife and prohibition of hunting, capture and possession, transport or export for commercial purposes, the following Critically Endangered (CR) species: guanaco (Lama guanicoe); Endangered species (EN): Peruvian longirostrid bat (Planoina genovensium); smoked bat (Amorphochilus schnablii); sea ​​otter (Lontra felina); Andean cat (Leopardus jacobitus), Andean condor (Vultur gryphus) and the pechicenizo totito (Anairetes alpinus); Vulnerable species (VU) such as: taruca (Hippocamelus antisensis), slender fringil (Xenospingus concolor), white-tailed arriero (Agriornis albicauda), coastal pallet (Bothrops pictus); as well as Near Threatened (NT) species, such as Atacama bat (Myotis atacamensis); puma (Puma concolor), vicuna (Vicugna vicugna), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), giant gallareta (Fulica gigantea), Chilean flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis), silver-throated diver (Podiceps occipitalis), puna partridge (Tinamotis pentlandii); mountain plover (Phegornis mitchellii) and the giant cone beak (Conirostrum binghami).

The flora is one of the most important groups of the biodiverty of the Cotahuasi canyon, due to its richness, diversity and structural importance in the ecosystems, as well as its relationship with local populations due to its use. 585 species have been registered in the area, as well as a group of around 60 taxa not yet determined, which could represent new records for the Arequipa region and the country, or even new species for science. Among the records there are 100 species that are considered in some category of threat or are endemic to Peru, being the most sensitive groups the cacti (Cactaceae) and the asteraceae (Asteraceae). The most outstanding plant formations in the area are shrubs, large stands of cacti or endemic cardinals, stands of Puya raimondii, queñua forests, bofedales, which together provide important ecosystem services such as carbon capture, storage and water supply, resources of food, enjoyment, among others. Among the registered species there are a total of 54 that are endemic to Peru.

Columnar cacti are considered as key species that allow the characteristic structure of this plant formation, providing food for bats and hummingbirds, shelter for birds such as the "canastero de los cactus" and shelter for many rodents. Other key and vitally important species are Puya raimondii and Polylepis rugulosa and P. mycrophylla, which provide support services to many bird species, and become transit areas in search of predatory wildlife food. In the bushes there are species that can be considered key for their coverage and food production: Ambrosia artemisioides, Tarasa operculata, Euphorbia apurimacensis, Cumulopuntia unguispina and Kageneckia lanceolata.

According to the national legislation (DS 043-2006-AG) there are 38 species that are in this list, of these the most outstanding are: Buddleja coriacea, Buddleja incana, Kageneckia lanceolata, Senecio chachaniensis and Senecio yurensis that are considered in Danger Critical (CR), that is, they would be seriously threatened with extinction. The first two are species that are associated with queñua forests, the rest are distributed in the scrub ecosystems.

It is important to mention that, according to The Red List of the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), the categorized species are 28, of these, the Puya raimondii and the Cedrela lilloi are in the category Endangered (EN), by what its populations worldwide are threatened with extinction. Finally, the species of cactus and orchids, which are 19 in all, are included in the list of the CITES treaty (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), so that their trade is restricted (Table 20).

This important biodiversity in its three levels was recognized by the Peruvian State since the 90s, as a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity, considering the Cotahuasi canyon as a Priority Zone for the Conservation of Biodiversity in Peru (FAMPE, 1996) , fact that leads to the designation of Landscape Reserve to the Sub-basin of the Cotahuasi River in 2005, as the second National Protected Natural Area in this category of recent creation, recognizing its biological values, as well as the millenarian relationship of man with his in these peculiar spaces, with socio-cultural values, in an interrelated set of harmonious development; It also constitutes an Area of Importance for Birds (IBA for its acronym in English), that is, for the conservation and observation of birds as well as having recognition for having good areas for carrying out adventure and experiential tourism activities.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The Landscape Reserve of the sub-basin of the Cotahuasi River, legally recognized as a national protected natural area is an area coinciding with the province of La Union, was established by the great values that this area has, forming natural and cultural landscapes closely linked to the Cotahuasi canyon, the same that is the axis that configures the province of La Union and its diversity of ecological floors.

This particular physiographic configuration, as a result of its extraordinary geology, geomorphology, its imposing formation as a canyon in the South American Andes and biogeography, presents innumerable natural manifestations in its territory that are not normally found in the same valley or province, as the canyon itself. Cotahuasi and other minor canyons in their context, as well as the waterfalls (Sipia, Uskune), geysers (Ocoruro), the high Andean lagoons (Huanzo, Icma), the glaciers, the stone forests (Santo Santo, Huarmunta), the snow-capped mountains ( Solimana, Firura) and the thermal waters (Luicho, Lucha, Huarcaya, Coñec), among the main examples.

These are complemented with elements of its biodiversity so peculiar for its ecotonic location among biogeographic regions, as well as a multiplicity of landscapes, ecosystems and habitats not represented in basins of similar characteristics in the Western Andes, which also includes a variable of climates and other physical conditions, for being to the north of the desert of Atacama, one of the most arid of the world and near the zones of humid bushes of the center of Peru that influence in its vegetation and associated fauna. Among these noteworthy elements are extensive stands of endemic columnar cacti (Weberbauerocereus rahui, Brwningia viridis), relicts of high Andean forests of queñua (Polylepis spp.), Kishuar (Bluddleja incana), qolle (Bluddleja coriácea), stands of the inflorescence highest in the world (Puya raimondii), extensive pastures and puna grass, natural bofedales and managed by past cultures, among others.

This set of exceptional values for its diversity and agglomeration in a single sub-basin, together with the natural environment modified by man since millennia ago, such as the large extensions of terraces or the archaeological complexes of diverse pre-Inca and Inca cultures, make up landscapes of a beauty recognized by its designation as ANP, in addition to other national and international designations and recognitions. Its important ecological diversity is recognized by the Peruvian State since the 1990s, as a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity, considering the Cotahuasi Canyon as a Priority Zone for the Conservation of Biodiversity in Peru (FAMPE, 1996).

Criterion (vii):
The Cotahuasi canyon shows outstanding natural phenomena and areas of great natural beauty and anthropic beauty, as well as the maintenance of a landscape aesthetic based on the management that the local population has managed to maintain, which is demonstrated by its designation of Landscape Reserve based on the exceptional natural values of the canyon, one of the deepest and most diverse on the planet and its formation in the South American Andes. In this way, in a small area contained in a single sub-basin, it presents snow chains and volcanoes, geysers, waterfalls, stone forests, glaciers, hot springs and the deep canyon.

It also presents a remarkable diversity of ecosystems for its ecological floors present in a difference of 900 to 6093 m.a.s.l. in less than 100 km of extension, as well as habitats with significant values ​​of the biodiversity of the Western Subtropical Andes, also having 19 endemic fauna species and 23 species in the list of protected species of Peru, in addition to 54 endemic species of flora and 38 species categorized by Peruvian legislation as protected, and of new taxa for science or of scarce knowledge. The extensive stands of columnar cacti of endemic species stand out, as well as the high Andean relict forests that support very special species such as queñua, rivers and streams that represent an important refuge for endangered species such as the sea otter that goes as far as 150 km from the sea. basin (unique throughout the range of its distribution) or amphibian species not yet described by the science of the genus Telmatobius.

Criterion (viii): The Cotahuasi canyon highlights the evolution and formation of canyons in the South American Andes as a whole, showing to be an outstanding example in its type that represents important stages in the history of the Earth, with complex geological processes such as the tectonics that form the canyon and the erosive processes underway, which are significant in the development of landforms and their varied geomorphological characteristics, which geologically presents 24 stratigraphic units that range from the Pre Cambrian to the Recent Quaternary.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The Cotahuasi Sub-Basin Landscape Reserve preserves the main features that characterize it intact, thus presenting the required integrity conditions. It is also managed by the National Service of Natural Protected Areas (SERNANP), an agency attached to the Ministry of the Environment. It has a current Master Plan approved with Presidential Resolution N ° 163-2009-SERNANP dated September 16, 2009, which specifies the objectives, zoning and lines of action to maintain its integrity. Conservation is developed from a holistic perspective, which involved the State and society through spaces as the Management Committee, formed by associations and public and private institutions and NGOs; also, it has the active participation of the villagers for their preservation and sustainable management of their resources.

Comparison with other similar properties

In South America there are no other areas declared World Heritage with the presence of a canyon as the main axis of its designation, however, in North America it does present the National Park of the Grand Canyon (State of Arizona, USA), furrowed by the long canyon dug by the Colorado River, which with its 1,500 meters of depth is declared the most spectacular gorge in the world. In its horizontal strata the geological history of the last two billion years is recorded. Also, on this site are vestiges of adaptation efforts of prehistoric man to a particularly inhospitable environment.

Generally speaking, the barrel of Cotahuasi is a representative sample of the formation and evolution of guns present in the western slopes of the South American Andes, with values protruding from geologically, geomorphology, ecosystem view of biodiversity and demonstrations cultural past and present. In the past 20 years, the canyon of Cotahuasi, their populations, natural resources, organic production and great beauty, have positioned themselves as a privileged place in the western Andes of South America as a brand is perceived related to production healthy, clean rivers, conservative people of their customs and a good relationship with nature.