UNESCO chief criticizes proposed Machu Picchu development plan

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The Inca citadel of Machu Picchu has been called a “black spot” in terms of the conservation of heritage in Latin America.

 That was the verdict yesterday of Italian Francesco Bandarin, director of the World Heritage Center at UNESCO. The expert said that although the archaeological part of the sanctuary is well-conserved, there is a threat to the integrity of the citadel: the announcement of construction of a pedestrian access bridge, which will alter all of its surroundings and make it impossible to control the flow of tourists.

The issue on the table is the controversial Carrilluchayoc bridge.“This is not acceptable, the historic landscape of Machu Picchu is being ruined,” said the UNESCO official, who announced that he will be visiting the site in April with a commission of experts.

On the other hand, he welcomed Latin American conservation of colonial centers of cities, especially in Ecuador, Brazil, Peru and Mexico.

He went on to mention other positive aspects, including the project to have the great Inca main trail from Colombia to Argentina, the Qhapaq Ñan, declared Heritage of Humanity, one of the most ambitious and innovative such projects on the continent. The protected site will stretch through six countries.

“It is a long and complicated process whereby first we have to protect, then arrange synthesis between the legal systems of the six nations and identify perimeters, maps, routes, and archaeological sites,” he said.

The Qhapaq Ñan runs for 6,000 kilometers, and UNESCO has been working on the project for three years – the completion date is projected to be in 2010 or 2011.

Bandarin also criticised lack of protection for the heritage sites of the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador and Copan in
Honduras, saying that tourism is “a growing threat to protected sites”.

Machu Picchu was declared a site of Historic and Natural Heritage of Humanity in 1981.

See also:
Machu Picchu may have to close for two days each week
The interview — Ricardo Espinoza (all about the Qhapaq Ñan)

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