Inca city Machu Picchu at risks from tourists

The Inca city of Machu Picchu in the Peruvian Andes needs better protection from environmental threats including tourism and fast expansion of a nearby town, said David Sheppard, of IUCN in an interview with Reuters on 24 June

Historic sanctuary of Machu Picchu

Inca city Machu Picchu at risk from tourists

Extracted from an interview of David Sheppard with Reuters, June 24, 2008

“Machu Picchu faces a lot of...challenges relating to tourism, uncontrolled growth of urban settlements, landslides, fires. Lack of sufficient control over high visitor numbers and expansion of the town of Aguas Calientes in the valley below the 2430 metre high Inca citadel were among threats. There needs to be a much tighter tourism management plan and some of the urban planning needs to be much more tightly controlled." Global warming, which may disrupt rainfall and contribute to landslides and forest fires, was also among risks for the city,” warned David Sheppard


IUCN wants Machu Picchu, , to be added to a list of about 30 endangered sites worldwide among a total of 851 properties overseen by UNESCO, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

Other sites rated as in danger on the UN World Heritage List include four forest national parks in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Galapagos Islands off Ecuador, medieval monuments in Kosovo and Iraq's Samarra archaeological city.

"There is a case for a danger listing for Machu Picchu,".A danger listing can help mobilise donors but can be seen as criticism of current protection policies. "We haven't heard from Peru," "We're not trying to blow a whistle. We're trying to identify the practical responses," said.David Sheppard

The Russian 2014 Sochi Olympic Games are also a worry for IUCN. A joint UNESCO/IUCN mission suggested relocating the luge and bobsleigh centre and a mountain Olympic village to help safeguard animals and plants, advising Russian organisers of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games to reconsider sites for the bobsleigh to curb threats to wildlife in the western Caucasus.”

On June 2, the UN Environment Programme also urged Russian Olympic organisers to seek alternative sites for the bobsleigh.


Work area: 
Protected Areas
Protected Areas
World Heritage
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