Ancient Wonder, Modern Challenge
The world’s largest cultural relic in terms of the sheer volume of its building material, the Great Wall of China has lost roughly a third of its original length over the centuries. Erosion, earthquakes, unmitigated biological growth, and the scavenging of building stone by surrounding villages have all contributed to its gradual destruction. The landscape surrounding the wall now faces increasing pressure from development. From 2000-2003, the International Friends of the Great Wall, working in collaboration with the Beijing Bureau for Cultural Relics, UNESCO, and the World Monuments Fund, has piloted a stewardship field program, resulting in generic cultural heritage protection laws applied for the first time to sections of the wall near Beijing.