Community leaders call to save UNESCO World Heritage Site

World Today

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The southern Mexico City neighborhood of Xochimilco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a protected natural reserve that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

However, urbanization and the contamination of its beautiful canals and floating farms have caused residents here to worry.

CCTV America’s Martin Markovits reports. Follow Martin Markovits on Twitter @MartinMarkovits

Community leaders call to save UNESCO World Heritage Site

Community leaders call to save UNESCO World Heritage Site

The southern Mexico City neighborhood of Xochimilco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a protected natural reserve that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

In the past, hundreds of miles of canals and floating gardens dotted the Mexico City landscape, before the Spanish empire conquered the Aztecs and drained most of the lakes.

Now the southern neighborhood of Xochimilco, about 30 kilometers (18 miles) from Mexico City, is all that’s left, but it’s also in danger.

The UNESCO World Heritage site is now overpopulated with illegal shantytowns affecting the water supply. This has caused a lot of concern, since Xochimilco’s springs and aquifers are the main source of water for Mexico City.

Years of neglect have left many of the canals severely contaminated. This has resulted in a drop in agricultural production and has even started to affect the local tourism here.
The neighborhood has been a popular tourist destination. Visitors come to ride trajineras, traditional flat-bottom riverboats, to see the beautiful floating gardens. But local tour guide and historian Jose Perez said he has seen a steady drop in tourism over the years.

For the last decade, community leaders have been lobbying Mexico City to construct a sewage system here. But nothing has been built. And they said if steps are not taken soon, it might be too late to save the ancient canals of Xochimilco.

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