CASE STUDIES from Mongolia
The following information has been extracted from the
Mongolian Buddhists Protecting Nature Handbook which can be downloaded in English and in Mongolian.
1. Gandan Tegchenling Monastery, the Centre of
Monks are taught not to cut trees, not to pollute
water and to love the area because of karma. “Every temple should have a room, or at least a desk, for conservation training and
planning,” Ven. Da Lama of Gandan said. “Monks should go and teach conservation to those
who are living in polluted lands, and to those who are living in untouched and
unpolluted lands. Buddhist talks are more powerful than rulings from the state.” Link here for more details of Gandan and its many environmental programmes.
2. The Erdene Zuu Endeavor in partnership with ARC,
the British Embassy and the Mongolian Government
In 2005 Erdene Zuu monastery in the former capital of Kharakorin opened the “Environmental Buddhist Elementary School”
where 30 young monks from throughout Mongolia receive training in traditional and
modern conservation alongside their religious education. The monastery also runs the Traditional Mongolian Ecology Project, which aims to
minimise damage to protected woodland in the region through giving life skills classes to children and adults. It is also creating a meditation garden with trees (in a very desolate landscape) and recently built a small ecology temple on a hillside above Karakorum. It is
dedicated to the Deity of Ecology and it contains maps and pictures of Mongolia's
wildlife, with strong injunctions to visitors not to mistreat nature. The Ecology Temple
distributes a small calendar, inspired by the one produced by Gandan Monastery in
conjunction with ARC, on which are detailed the days on which people should not
cut wood or kill animals in accordance with local beliefs. Link
here for more details.
3. The Ontsar Isei Lin Monastery mining project,
in partnership with the World Bank's NEMO fund
In October 2005 Ontsar Isei Lin Monastery in Baganuur District, some 140 kilometres
west of Ulaanbaatar, launched a major project to document the environmental and
health impacts of the Baganuur coal mine.
Link here for more details.
4. Dashchoilin Monastery
Dashchoilin Monastery in Ulaanbaatar is known for conducting ceremonies for
companies initiating projects that will have an impact on the environment, in particular
ones involving mining. Link
here for more information.
5. Amarbayasgalants Monastery
In 2004, the monastery participated in a national Buddhist educational awareness
programme run by ARC in partnership with WWF. This combined practical training for
monks and herders to maintain springs as vital water sources for monks and herders,
with rituals to protect the springs and raise their significance for the local community.
This project was linked into the government's Mongolian National Year of campaign.
With the influx of pilgrims and tourists, there is a critical concern about how to deal
with waste. Link
here for more details on the Amarbayasgalants Monastery.
6. Khamar Khiid
Khamar Khiid, in the eastern Gobi province of Dornogov, has been a pioneer in a
number of environmental initiatives - in particular a reforestation project in the Gobi
in partnership with the NGO Tavan Dohio. The first aim of the reforestation project
is to restore a grove of 100 elms cut down by Russian soldiers. Since 2003, hundreds of seedlings have been planted at the monastery, many with
the involvement of local schoolchildren. Future plans for the surrounding area include installing protective fencing and walkways to prevent soil erosion and traffic damage..
Link here for more background about Khamar Khiid.
7. Luvsandanzanjantsan Studies Centre
The Centre has been very strong in environmental lobbying and advocacy.
Successful lobbying of local representatives since the 1990s has led to provinciallevel
protection of sacred and environmentally significant areas, actually pushing out
mining companies operating in these areas. In 2005, three mining companies ceased
their activities; two more are expected to cease operations. It is still a battle, with
some 100 companies still licensed to operate in the district. The centre is also helping to revive traditional conservation practices and sacred site worship rituals, as well as encouraging tree and vegetable planting.
Link here for further details.
8. Gandandarjaaling Monastery
Gandandarjaaling Monastery is located in the remote Khan
Khokhii region of Mongolia. It has received a grant from ARC to test the water quality at sacred
springs in the area. Link
here for more information.
9. Gandan Shadduv Ling Monastery
There is a major copper molybdenum plant near to this small monastery in Orkhon
Aimag. According to monks, there are suspicions that the pollution from this mine
has a role in the high level of congenital heart defects seen in the area. There is a
desire to link in with national Buddhist environmental programmes although this has
not yet happened.
10 Selenge Aimag Monastery
The monastery has been engaging in small-scale tree planting and education
programmes in the area around this northern Mongolian monastery. “I teach that if
you plant onions you will grow onions; and if you cut the trees, you have no trees,”
said senior monk Dhundup from Selenge Aimag. The monks also plant flowers, “so
that people who are suffering can be released from suffering by seeing beauty.”
Pages about Mongolian Environmental Wisdom, taken from the Handbook.
The Mongolian Lord of Nature.
Sacred texts, places and ovoos.
Traditional Environmental Law in Mongolia.
The work that the monks, in conjunction with ARC and the World Bank and others, are carrying out to rediscover the sutras about sacred land in Mongolia.
Do you want to support this?
For full contact and address details of Mongolian Buddhist Monasteries, please see page 57 of the
Handbook. And for details of local Development, Environmental and Educational NGOs, please visit pages 58-59 of the
Other links to Mongolian Buddhism and the Environment
Link here to access the news story about the launch of the Mongolian Buddhist Handbook.
here to download the Mongolian Buddhist Handbook in English. (Please note this file is 1.15MB)
here to download the Mongolian version of the Handbook.(A 2MB file.)
Link here to download the guide to the Mongolian Buddhists’ Eight Year Plan (this file is 4.13MB).
Link to Mongolian Case Studies.
here on how to make contact with the Sangha.
To download the A3 poster of a new thangka about Buddhists protecting Nature, link
Brief History of Mongolian Buddhism.
Buddhism and the Environment.
Women in Buddhism in Mongolia.
Key Figures in Mongolian Buddhism.
Key Meetings in Mongolia.
Mongolian Buddhists and Development.
Mongolian Buddhists and Ecology.
Mongolian Buddhist Hunting Ban.
The Lost Sutras.
ARC and the Faiths
Faith communities are working in countless ways to care for the environment. This section outlines the basics of each faith’s history, beliefs and teachings on ecology.
Mongolia report 2004
Work supported by ARC in Mongolia in 2004
Last updated: September 24, 2009 :
Latest news on the Long Term Commitments
A sample of some of the faith groups around the world that are creating Five, Seven, Eight and Nine Year Plans to protect the natural environment, through the UNDP-ARC framework.