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 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the Andean city of Cusco, the old Inca capital in southeastern Peru. It was rediscovered in 1911 by the American explorer Hiram Bingham. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1983.
When Machu Picchu was rediscovered over 100 years ago, it was called the “Lost City” because the jungle had swallowed it, which protected it from being destroyed during the Spanish conquest. When the forestation was removed, the ruins were revealed. According to the site’s official website, some scientists believe Machu Picchu was used as an astronomical observatory, indicated by the Intihuatana stone that indicates two equinoxes a year.
Due to natural composition and extensive usage of the land, the area is at risk of mudslides due to heavy rainfall in winter and forest fires in summer.
In 2017, the government imposed limitations on how many tourists are allowed to visit the site. Now Peru limited visitor numbers to just 6,000 a day in two waves, which will be able to travel up the Sacred Valley to the Old Mountain every day, and some of the more vulnerable areas have been closed to free-venturing individuals.
This decision was made as a precautionary step towards protecting the heritage site from fear that Machu Picchu was being loved to death; around 1.5 million tourists were visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Site every year, causing damage to the structures and the surrounding area.
Along those lines, Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra launched a campaign to reforest the Machu Picchu archeological site to protect it from mudslides and forest fires.
President Martin Vizcarra had pledged to plant one million trees in the 35,000-hectare 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,” President Martin Vizcarra said.
The Machu Picchu estate, which includes three distinct areas for agriculture, accommodation, and religious ceremonies, is the most iconic site from the Inca Empire that ruled a large swathe of western South America for 100 years before the Spanish conquest in the 16th century.
President Martin 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 World Heritage site is at risk of mudslides due to heavy rainfall in winter and forest fires in summer.