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Peru to plant 1 million trees around Machu Picchu site

The citadel of Machu Picchu. .
The citadel of Machu Picchu. . AP Photo/Karel Navarro

Peruvian president Martin Vizcarra has announced the planting of 1 million trees around the Machu Picchu archaeological site to protect it from mudslides and forest fires.

The plantation drive campaign was announced in a statement released by the president on Jan. 9.

“We’re here to begin the planting of a million trees in the protected zone around the Machu Picchu sanctuary,” he said, adding that the one-million tree target is “a commitment from the government, the region, the municipality and all the citizens who want to protect this world wonder.”

The area, the most iconic site of the Incan empire, stretches 35,000 hectares. It’s at risk of mudslides and forest fires in the winter and summer, respectively.

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The trees will also help protect the local fauna and flora.

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The tourist site, rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911, has undergone some visitor changes in recent years to prevent degradation and damage.

The Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Condor and the Intihuatana Stone now have limited visiting hours. In 2017, only 6,000 visitors in two separate waves were allowed per day, the AFP reports.

Video shows damage from train crash near Machu Picchu
Video shows damage from train crash near Machu Picchu

A similar project was undertaken in February 2019 when Ecosia partnered with Progreso to plant 1.2 million trees in the South American country, the largest reforestation project in the area.

Earlier on Jan. 9, from Machu Picchu, President Vizcarra also announced the universalization of healthcare for all Peruvians. He announced 2020 the “Year of Universalization of Health.”

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.

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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.

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meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca