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Biological Carbon Removal in Mongolia

As most of the headlines are now focusing on the climate summit “COP 28” in Dubai, scientists are still urging us to achieve a net-zero carbon goal to combat climate change, and carbon removal projects have become a significant part of the solution. CFourteen (C14) is a biological carbon removal project developer that is making efforts to identify feasible lands for soil organic carbon (SOC) improvement through the implementation of better agricultural practices. In September, we recently conducted an initial scoping exercise and engaged with locals to understand the carbon sequestration opportunity. C14 and its local partner ORDA visited a tree nursery in Mongolia and engaged with the local authority to find out about the latest developments of the “Green Darkhan Campaign” — a part of Mongolia’s 1 Billion Trees Directive.

The tree nursery is located in Shaamar, Selenge province of Mongolia and is home to 36 types of trees, shrub standard seedlings, and saplings, all native to Mongolia. Agroforest LLC started the tree nursery in 2017 with 4 hectares of land and has since grown, doubling its land to 8 hectares. The main goal of the company is to introduce innovative methods in afforestation and restoration work in Mongolia, aiming to become a standard enterprise in its specialized region that has advanced to a certain level.

Tree nursery by Agroforest LLC /Shaamar soum, Selenge Province, Mongolia

Tree nursery by Agroforest LLC /Shaamar soum, Selenge Province, Mongolia/

The main five employees, with 13-24 years of work experience, include two experts with PhDs in Agriculture and Environmental Protection and Management. They manage tree breeding, planting, restoration of degraded forests, and afforestation based on forest research and best practices. We had the opportunity to meet two of the nursery experts who were working hard to take care of the baby trees and humbly supporting the climate goal.

Batdorj is the director of Agroforest LLC and holds a Master’s degree in environmental protection and management. Born as a native of Selenge province, his father and brother were all experts in forestry and dedicated their knowledge and expertise to restoring the pine forest in Selenge. In 2017, he established his own tree nursery and has been expanding it to participate scientifically in the reforestation and rehabilitation of degraded forest areas in Mongolia.

He shared with C14, “The Selenge province is located at an altitude of 700-800 meters above sea level, making it an agricultural region with good heat supply, a long growing season, and a substantial amount of rainfall. Therefore, it provides ideal conditions to carry out tree propagation in the region.

Right next to Batdorj is Dr. Battulga, the Chief Engineer of Agroforest LLC. Battulga holds a Ph.D. in Forestry and has more than 22 years of experience, including working at the Institute of Geoecology and the Institute of Geography-Geoecology of the Academy of Sciences. Dr. Battulga has been working at Agroforest LLC since its establishment in 2017, dedicating his knowledge and expertise to the tree nursery and putting it into practice. He completed his Master’s in Biology and Bachelor’s in Forestry from the National University of Mongolia.

Dr. Battulga commented, “Since a large amount of carbon is released from animal husbandry, there is a lot of interest in rural communities to accept carbon sequestration projects to sink carbon and improve soil condition. It will be good to see more carbon removal projects implemented. We are here for its success.”

In addition to the tree nursery visit, C14 and the ORDA team organized a two-day stakeholder engagement workshop on carbon removal in Darkhan City. The stakeholders included local authorities, academics, and members from the community. The workshop aimed to educate local stakeholders and improve awareness of carbon removal and project development requirements. Darkhan City is currently implementing the Green Darkhan Campaign, which is part of Mongolia’s 1 Billion Trees Directive.

In Mongolia, forestry experts are trained at the National University of Mongolia, the Mongolian University of Life Sciences, and the Mongolian University of Science and Technology. However, the number of new students enrolled every year is small, and the number of graduates working in the profession is even lower. There is a severe shortage of forest specialists in rural areas. The national movement for the “Billion Trees,” initiated by the President of Mongolia, has led to an increase in the number of students studying forestry. While actions are gradually taking place as calls for tree planting spread across the country, it is still not enough to accelerate the carbon abatement required to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

More work needs to be done in Mongolia to effectively sequester carbon and restore a green environment. Multi-stakeholder collaboration and green finance can undoubtedly support this transitional change. However, local experts and professionals are the key pillars to make this happen. It is our pleasure to meet two forestry professionals who have been diligently working away from home to improve the environment in Mongolia.

Selenge Tree Nursery

 Selenge Tree Nursery

As we actively support biological carbon removal and engage with local communities, we find ourselves questioning: What more can Mongolian society do to promote environmental awareness and protection? How can we collectively amplify the impact of initiatives like the 1 Billion Trees Directive and encourage widespread participation in carbon reduction projects? The dedicated efforts of individuals like Batdorj and Battulga, who tirelessly work towards afforestation, highlight the potential for positive change. Our visit underscores the significance of collaboration, education, and community involvement in achieving meaningful environmental goals. The tree nursery in Selenge is a call to action for all of us to reflect on what more can be done, individually and collectively, to nurture a greener, more sustainable future for Mongolia and the planet.