The preservation status of the Great Wall is "not optimistic", a Chinese expert has said, highlighting irresponsible industrial development and a lack of funds.
"Almost three quarters of the part of the wall built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) is poorly preserved, and less than 10 percent is in a relatively sound condition,"said Wu Guoqiang, secretary-general of the China Great Wall Society, at a Friday seminar. The society was founded in 1987 and is dedicated to researching, protecting and restoring the Great Wall.
Wu revealed that only foundations remain of some sections and both humans and nature are posing severe threats to the Great Wall.
The Great Wall was built continuously from the 3rd century B.C. till the 17th century A.D. as military defense. It was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987.
"We must brook no delay in salvaging and protecting the Great Wall," Wu said.
Various natural factors, including earthquakes, floods and erosion, have taken their toll on the Wall, but the main culprit is humans.
"Damage from human activity is growing more and more exacerbating," said Wu, citing construction projects approved by local governments with no preservation concerns.
Lacking preservation awareness, civilians pluck bricks and soil from the Great Wall and even grow plants on it, Wu said, adding that such cases usually occur in remote regions and are difficult to control.
To make matters worse, ]the Wall extends for more than 20,000 km through many remote regions with impoverished governments who lack the funds and skills to protect their sections.
Wu called for a thorough management system to enforce protective measures, a special preservation fund as well as scientific and technological input.
"The Great Wall is the most recognizable symbol of China in the world, and it must be kept alive," Wu said.