For those who have been planning to visit the Great Wall of China; you may want to speed up those travel plans. Reports are emerging that approximately 30 percent of the Wall, which is considered an UNESCO World Heritage site, has been slowly disappearing – thanks to the weather, as well as damaging activities from locals and tourists.
The Great Wall extends for thousands of kilometres from the Shanhaiguan in the east to Jiayuguan, located near the edges of the Gobi desert. It is said that The Wall is currently so deteriorated, that its length varies between 9,000 to 21,000 kilometres, which depends on whether or not missing areas are included.
The first phase of The Wall was built in the third century BC, where approximately 6,300 kilometres were constructed during the 1368-1644 years of the Ming Dynasty. This section also includes the highly-visited areas north of Beijing, China’s capital. Recently, The Beijing Times has reported that 1,962 kilometres within this area of The Wall has eroded since the time of its initial construction.
According to the Times, which cited a survey conducted by the Great Wall of China Society from last year, while portions of the site have regressed due to weather, other reasons for its deterioration include plants and wildlife growing within the walls.
The report as listed on MSN goes on to point out that tourism and activities from locals have further caused damage to this incredible site. Destitute villagers in Lulong county, located north in the province of Hebe have been knocking out bricks from sections of The Great Wall to build houses, and selling engraved slabs with Chinese lettering on the bricks for 30 yuan ($4.80). This is despite a Chinese regulation fine of 5,000 yuan for anyone who is caught steals bricks from the Wall. Still, enforcing this act of vandalism has been a challenge, as there is no organization that is responsible for managing the regulation.
In addition, with many now exploring undeveloped parts of the Great Wall (which has become quite a popular tourism activity recently), this has caused considerable damage to these sections of the Wall; as there are now more tourists than what these areas are generally use to.