Location and Values: Huascarán National Park is located in the high Andes of northern Peru, and covers most of the Cordillera Blanca, the world’s highest tropical mountain range. It is a spectacular landscape encompassing 27 peaks over 6,000m with 663 glaciers, lakes, torrential mountain streams and high plateau. Over a quarter of the park is snow-bound, while a third is tundra and another third is paramo (high plateau grasslands, or puna), with small areas of wetlands and tropical montane forest in the valleys. The park protects some particularly notable plants and animals, including the’ Queen of the Andes’ (a bromeliad plant, Puya raymondii) which has the largest flower-spike in the world (9-10m high). Vicuna, spectacled bears, cougar and Andean condors are amongst the park’s rare and threatened animals.
The park was inscribed on the world heritage list under criterion (viii) recognizing its geological complexity. Many of its rocks are of sedimentary origin and have been uplifted, folded and faulted by complex tectonic activity associated with the building of the Andes through subduction of the Pacific oceanic crust under the South American plate. This process also gives rise to volcanic activity along this part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, and the area is subject to continuing seismic activity.
Conservation Status and Prospects. According to IUCN’s Conservation Outlook Assessment (2017) the conservation status of the Huascarán National Park is ‘of significant concern’. The IUCN report notes that ‘prior to the creation of the park, traditional resource use for agriculture, livestock, mining and tourism was practiced. Over the years, such use has continued and intensified, with the result that natural attributes of the site have suffered severely. Conflicts with users of local resources are still pending resolution and implementation of the legislation and regulation of the park has been limited, despite the efforts of the State Party. The increase in human population in the buffer zone has increased the pressures on the natural resources of the park. Values related to geomorphological features and geological processes remain virtually intact.’
UNESCO Official Website
IUCN Conservation Outlook
UNEP-WCMC Site Description