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[Travel]: “Nature to Money” Protect Virgin Forest

Posted February. 16, 2002 11:30,   


Sitting by the window on a train that goes to Machipuchu, which is 100 km away from Cusko, the Incan capital, towards Northeast, we can often listen to the rustling sound of branches of subtropical trees such as palm trees and wisteria from the train.

The train goes to the `heart` of Incan lands through the `waist` of the Andes, covered with forest and ultra slim with a width of 80cms.

The reason why it has such a narrow gauge is because it is a place where the Amazon begins, the tropical forest of South America located in east of Peru, near Machupichu.

To save the habitat called the `eyebrow of the Amazon`, people narrowed the rail track and accepted a decrease in income.

In fact, the narrow gauge has nothing to do with the rugged terrain of the mountains.

This area is at a low altitude but 1000 meters higher than Cusko, which is at a height of 3,500m. Therefore, the peak does not even have the perpetual snow commonly found in the Andes.

Just Mount Veronica, which is 5,750m high, is visible in the far distance.

Antonio Lopez, Service director of Peru Rail explained, "If we had constructed a broad gauge as the normal gauge, which is 1.3 times larger than this track, the pantry car which sells coffee and sandwiches to passengers would also have been big. 5000 trees of subtropical vegetation per 10 km square can grow, I presume, because of the reduction of the track width."

The effort of the Peruvian people to keep the `eyebrow of the Amazon` does not stop here.

There is no road connecting Cusko and Machupichu, which have the maximum number of tourist attractions.

Recently, a commercial helicopter, which covers 100kms in 20 minutes, has been launched for those who feel bored traveling 4 hours by train one way.

However, there is no talk of pouring asphalt here.

The Peruvian people developed special terraced farms called `andenes` so that they can fully utilize a limited size of land from Inca Imperial.

`The Eyebrow of the Amazon`, which they protect while making personal sacrifices, reflects their view of nature as something precious.

The reason why a hydroelectric power plant could be built 10 years ago on the banks of the Urubamba river where no one can predict when a landslide will occur, is that they promoted strategic protective measures for the forest such as suspending traffic.

The biggest mystery of the Incan civilization is that it disappeared in the 16th century and did not use wheels at all.

How could they transport huge stones cut as squares to the top of Machupichu at a height of 2,250m?

However after 500 years, their descendants, the Peruvian people, are still cultivating the area called the `eyebrow of the Amazon,` minimizing the use of the modern traffic system.

Although so many tourists come here from all over the world, the Peruvian people are protecting mountains and forests perfectly despite the bad economic situation.

Will the next generation call this a mystery?