The introduced flora to Machu Picchu Sanctuary: an inventory and management priorities for biodiversity conservation.
As a contribution for the implementation of the Master Plan of Machu Picchu Sanctuary, and supported by the Machu Picchu Program (a debt-for-nature swap between Finland and Peru), an inventory of the introduced plant species to this protected area was carried out. Approximately 208 no-native species were present in the area, 168 (80.8%) are useful species related with agro-ecosystems, gardens, and urban areas, while the remnant is either weed of Andean crops or naturalized species. Approximately 194 (92.3%) are non-invasive species, and apparently do not represent an actual threat to local biodiversity; 14 (7.7%) of the species show some invasive tendencies, and four of them (1.9%) are spread to certain extent. These species include Cobaea scandens, Lantana camara, Melinis minutiflora, Spartium junceum, Psidium guajava, Hedychium coronarium, Pseudelephantopus spiralis, Tritonia crocosmaeflora [Crocosmia crocosmiiflora], Ricinus communis, Pennisetum clandestinum, Opuntia ficus-indica, Gladiolus communis, Impatiens balsamina and Cynoglossum nervosum. Expansion of these species has occurred following corridors on the bottom of the Vilcanota's zone, from the valleys of Cusco and La Convención, throughout disturbed areas (fire, agriculture, deforestation/or cattle). Even though actual invasions have occurred for a handful of species, the process already requires a special management effort. The persistence of human-made disturbance regimes on natural ecosystems, and the high mobility of humans and products, increase the risk of new invasions. In order to prevent biodiversity loss, we propose an agenda or interrelated actions that includes: (1) prevention of new invasions, (2) research and monitoring of the dynamics of invasions both in natural areas and agro-ecosystems, (3) control of species that are affecting or arresting natural regeneration and growth of forests (4) control of species on archeological sites and (5) education and public awareness campaigns.