Yanacancha-Huaquis Cultural Landscape

World Monuments Watch
Miraflores District, Peru

Site History and Significance

Traditional Water Infrastructure in an Ancient Cultural Landscape

In Peru, an example of a traditional water infrastructure extends across an ancient cultural landscape nestled within the Andes. Here, pre-Inca civilizations (Yauyos) developed a series of dams, reservoirs, and channels to divert, filter, and retain spring water and glacier melt for the irrigation of high-altitude pastures and lower-altitude fields, as well as for human consumption. The infrastructure, some of which dates to the ninth century CE, creates fertile wetlands in the high, dry puna ecosystem that were used to harvest water and sediments for grass to feed livestock.

The water retention allows for percolation and replenishment of natural springs at lower altitudes used to irrigate agricultural terraces and supply water for daily use. When maintained, the system provides effective water management across a large, mountainous landscape that impacts communities across the Cañete River basin. Unfortunately, much of the infrastructure has been largely abandoned and key maintenance practices forgotten by the local Indigenous heirs of this incredible heritage.

2022 World Monuments Watch

Since 2013, the community of Miraflores and Instituto de Montaña, in alliance with the Nor Yauyos Cochas Landscape Reserve and  IUCN, have been working hand in hand to maintain and preserve this landscape. Together, they implemented an Ecosystem-Based Adaptation (EbA) measure that restored the site’s ancient water management system, improving livestock and pastureland management there– key actions in climate change adaptation in the highlands.

Recognition on 2022 World Monuments Watch will help draw international and national attention to the ancestral water management network of Yanacancha-Huaquis, encouraging the expansion of recent rehabilitation efforts and the development of a sustainable tourism plan benefiting the local community.

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Through the World Monuments Watch, World Monuments Fund (WMF) collaborates with local partners to design and implement targeted conservation programs—including advocacy, planning, education, and physical interventions in the historic built environment—to improve human well-being through cultural heritage preservation. 

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Last updated: March 2022.

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