Tue, Jun 24, 2008 - Page 5 News List

China says it wants to protect Everest by limiting climbers

AFP , BEIJING

China wants to restrict the number of climbers on Mount Everest in a bid to protect the harsh but fragile environment on the world's highest mountain, state media said yesterday.

New legislation could be introduced to control the number of visitors, the reports said in the wake of long-standing concerns that climbers and other visitors pollute the mountain with hard-to-clear rubbish and waste.

“We need to limit the number of people who want to climb Mount Everest, who exert a negative impact on the environment,” Zhang Yongze (張永澤), the director of Tibet’s Bureau of Environmental Protection, told the Xinhua news agency.

“We will also need to strengthen management of commercial activities involving [the mountain],” he said in an interview. “We don’t want so many visitors to disturb the peak.”

AFP could not reach the bureau for comment yesterday, but the China Daily said Zhang had suggested new laws could be introduced to restrict visitor numbers on the Chinese side of the mountain, which straddles the border with Nepal.

Authorities also intend to remove rubbish from Everest’s slopes in the first half of next year, Zhang told Xinhua.

“We have the responsibility to ensure that every drop of water flowing out of Mount Qomolangma into rivers and streams is clean,” Zhang said, referring to Everest by its Tibetan name.

Scaling Everest has become big business and more than 2,000 people have so far succeeded in reaching the 8,848m peak. Many more visit the area around Everest without making it all the way to the summit.

More than 40,000 tourists visited last year on the Chinese side, leaving behind 120 tonnes of trash, the China Daily reported. But they were a fraction of the number visiting the Nepali side each year, the paper said.

Campaigns to pick up the huge amounts of garbage left by visitors and climbers have been going on since 1992.

Last year, a team led by Japanese mountaineer Ken Noguchi collected about 500kg of rubbish — including tins, old tents, food and medicines — during an annual clean-up drive.

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