“Almost three quarters of the part of the wall built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) is poorly preserved, and less than 10 per cent is in a relatively sound condition,” Wu Guoqiang, secretary-general of the China Great Wall Society told a seminar.
The society was founded in 1987 and is dedicated to researching, protecting and restoring the Great Wall.
Wu said that both humans and nature are posing severe threats to the Great Wall, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The Great Wall was built from the 3rd century BC till the 17th century AD as military defence. It was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987.
Over a four million tourists visit the Great Wall every year as it is the centre of China’s tourism campaign. Each tourist pays about USD 17 to visit it different places, especially in Beijing.
“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,” Wu said citing construction projects approved by local governments with no preservation concerns.
People 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 recognisable symbol of China in the world, and it must be kept alive,” Wu said.