Czech experts have completed another mission in the project to save Mongolian forests
In recent years climate change has meant that forestry in Mongolia has been facing some considerable challenges, which have an impact on the social as well as economic life of the country’s inhabitants. Mongolian forestry has a shortage of trained and experienced experts that could help to improve the sustainability of the local forests. Therefore, this year, Czech forestry experts carried out another mission as part of a CzDA project there. The aim was to teach Mongolian forestry teachers and their students how to collect field data.
Forests are an important aspect of Mongolian life. For the local people they are a source of water, provide shade in hot weather and are also a source of livelihood for many people. Although much of Mongolia is covered by steppes, the country has roughly ten to fourteen million hectares of forest, which for the sake of comparison is equivalent to the total amount of forest in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland altogether. Unfortunately, owing to climate change, Mongolia has been facing serious problems in forestry. The three-year project Mongolian forestry in Development: Advanced Expertise in Forest Planning and Management is focused on improving the skills of forestry experts and follows up on the previous exchange of expertise carried out in the project Development of Forests and the Gene Pool of Local Forest Tree Ecotypes in Mongolia. You can take a look at a 26-minute film about this project here.
This year’s expert mission followed on from the first year of the project and the preparatory trip taken in autumn 2018, which included a workshop on the topic of “Development of Forests and Genetic Sources of Local Forest Tree Ecotypes As a Means of Adapting to Climate Change”. During the project the experts presented tools for long-term forest development and, on the basis of field surveys, educational and methodological materials for private, state and educational institutions were created together with the Mongolian partners. Two forest nurseries were established (one in the somon of Sharyngol, Darkhan-Uul Province, and the other at the university of agriculture and forestry in Darkhan), together with an educational nature trail. The project activities were linked to the education system and to a public awareness campaign, so as to increase the sustainability of the outputs.
The concerns about criminal activity by the local gold miners were luckily not confirmed
This year’s trip was taken by an expert team comprising Antonín Kusbach, Tadeáš Štěrba and Jan Novák. ”Besides us, another 12 people participated in the field survey, ten of whom were from the Mongolian University of Life Sciences and two from the Forest Research and Development Center. At the end, all the participants received a training certificate,” says project coordinator Antonín Kusbach, adding that they did encounter some complications on their trip. ”When we arrived at Khurel Gol in the Khan Khentii mountains we were delayed due to administrative problems with the entry permit. The site was in a “state of emergency” owing to crime in the gold mining region, and so the local governor issued an order instructing that no visitors were to be permitted to enter the area. They claimed that the permit we had from the Mongolian Ministry of Environment and Tourism was invalid. Eventually they let us enter the area at our own risk and responsibility and we were able to start work on building the camp.”
During the first part of the training the participants were acquainted with the basic forest ecosystems in the area, the vegetation, geomorphology and climate, which was demonstrated on a meteorological station installed last autumn. After downloading the data and work with the software the participants were given an initial test to gauge their basic knowledge of the ecology of forest ecosystems. The area surveyed is situated in so-called dark taiga, a mixture of spruce, fir, larch and Siberian pine with birch mixed in. ”In this tract we demonstrated how to collect vegetation, pedoanthracological and soil data. The tract is situated in virgin forest, and none of the students or teachers had ever seen a forest like that before! At the end of the survey we showed everyone how to determine the “density” of the forest using a relascope. The student themselves also tried working with increment borers and reading the age of the trees. Finally, we used a soil probe to take samples for pedochemical laboratory analyses and pedoanthracology,” says Antonín Kusbach about the team’s work in the forests of Mongolia. Another expert trip is planned for next year. The aim of the project is to help to preserve the gene pool of Mongolian tree species and show the way to quality and sustainable forest management.