When you think about China one structure immediately stands-out: The Great Wall of China. According to a comprehensive archeological survey, the entire architecture – including its actual walls, trenches, and natural defensive barriers such as hills and rivers – measures to about 21,916 kilometers.
Because of its length alone associations dedicated in preserving the wall is finding it more and more difficult to maintain the structure’s integrity.
Constructed in the 3rd century B.C., with the original wall being built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the Great Wall has been a large part of the country’s history, heritage, and one of today’s top tourist destinations.
The structure has been on the list of UNESCO’s (United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) World Heritage site since 1987.
But a third of the wall has now been lost to a combination of natural erosion and human damage sustained over the years, Beijing Times reported. And things could get even worse as there are little to nothing that’s being done to protect the massive structure.
Great Wall of China Society’s last year survey found that only 8.2 percent of wall is in good condition, with over 70 percent falling in the category of poorly preserved.
Dong Yaohui, Deputy Director of the Great Wall of China Society, said that the 20 kilometer wall has been getting extremely difficult to maintain and restore, adding that relying on local heritage department is insufficient in guarding and protecting the site.
The report also stated that the growing trend among tourists visiting the mainly unexplored sites of the edifice, known as the “Wild Great Wall”, has only hasten the rate of the structure’s deterioration.
Locals stealing bricks with historic engravings, taking parts of the wall to build as houses; graffiti, and agricultural development on surrounding parts has also taken their toll and has been deemed more destructive that the Mongolian hordes ever did thousands of years ago.
A Concerning Approach
There are a few suggestions that Dong slid across the table. Among them are educating locals and farmers in the area, recruiting local people to ensure that tourists respect the sites, and imposing higher fines to those who are caught stealing parts of the wall.
Dong voiced his concern at the government’s somewhat laid-back approach to those who have damaged the site. He pointed out one incident where part of the Great Wall of Ningxia was bulldozed by the local government for agricultural development. People who were responsible only had an earful of verbal warning, but not much else.
Awareness should also be raised. Locals and tourists alike should take responsibility in making sure the wall stands another thousand years. Locals that are caught taking bricks should be imposed with a mandatory service to protect, maintain, and ensure that the wall is not being disrespected.
Major steps should be taken by both local and national government if they wish to preserve one of the country’s most iconic sites and among the major reasons that tourist flock the country. But with the current development of such things maybe it will not be long before the Great Wall of China will be a thing of the past, remembered only in stories and pictures.