Overzealous quarrying in the Songshan Mountains has endangered the
environment in the area that is home to the Shaolin Temple, the spiritual home
of kung fu.
Quarrying has polluted the mountains with garbage, dusty air and leftover
The beautiful landscape of the mountains has been destroyed, leaving little
but exposed mountain surfaces and destroyed forests. Visitors and environment
experts are calling for the protection of the Songshan Mountains by banning
On a northern sidehill of the area, a number of villages are using strong
dynamite and huge quarrying machinery. The crushed rock was later sold for 30
yuan (US$3.75) per cubic meter.
One villager "proudly" told Xinhua that "No matter how much stone a
businessman wants to purchase, we can surely satisfy his needs."
There are more than 20 quarries across the Songshan Mountains, said Meng
Jiang, a former senior government official of Dengfeng City.
The Songshan Mountains are on the boundaries of three cities in Henan
Province - Dengfeng, Yanshi and Gongyi.
According to Meng, Dengfeng has set up the Songshan Mountains National Forest
Park to protect its natural resources. Nonetheless, it can do nothing to stop
quarrying on the northern sidehill because that area belongs to the other two
Professor Zhou Kunshu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences urged local
governments to further protect the Songshan Mountains. He said it is not only a
natural attraction, but also the heart of Chinese Buddhism and kung fu.
Since both Paleolithic and Neolithic cultural relics have been found in the
area, the mountains can also be seen as the cradle of ancient Chinese culture,
However, bare rock makes the area ugly, said Zhang Xinbin, a researcher of
the Henan Academy of Social Sciences. "It's our responsibility to protect the
Songshan Mountains. Its cultural status can't be replaced by any other mountains
Economist Zheng Taisen has been studying culture in the Songshan Mountains
for years. He said the cultural environment is deteriorating.
"The mountain view could be seen by most people in cities around it in the
past, but now several skyscrapers break the ridge line and damage the natural
beauty," Zheng said.
Named a World Geological Park by the United Nations Educational, Scientific
and Cultural Organization, the State Council has included kung fu from Shaolin
Temple in its first intangible cultural heritage list.
The area also boasts the Songyang Academy, one of the four most important
schools in ancient China; Zhongyue Temple, built in the Qin Dynasty (221-207
BC); and Yongtai Temple, China's oldest royal Buddhist nunnery.