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G.Nyamdavaa: People cause 53 percent of environmental degradation

Trans. by B.DULGUUN 

The 2013 and 2014 Report on State of the Environment was released last month and was held for discussion by the Parliamentary Standing Committee. Some clarifications related to this report and Mongolia’s environmental issues were made from G.Nyamdavaa, Head of the Environment and Natural Resources Management Department at the Ministry of Environment, Green Development and Tourism (MEGDT).

What’s the significance of the Report on State of the Environment? 

This report becomes the basic data and document for developing and deciding environmental policies, as well as determines trends and changes in environmental conditions. Sustainable development goals for environmental safety are defined based on this document so it’s a very significant. Environmental state reports are developed once every two years and discussed at the Standing Committee on Environment, Food and Agriculture and the parliamentary session. The report for 2013 and 2014 was developed by many experts based on data spanning from 20 years ago. The report provides the latest statistics on environmental issues to the public, organizations and government policy makers. 

What are the major changes in the environment according to the report? 

The environmental state report reports on all natural resources including climate, weather, surface and underground water, soil, plants, and animals. Statistics on climate and weather play a major role. Due to climate change, global warming processes have been continuing quite rapidly. The average temperature around Mongolia’s land has increased by 2.1 degrees Celsius in the past 75 years, from 1940 to 2014, and the average annual precipitation level decreased by seven percent. Rapid warming around western and central areas of Mongolia has been observed. Rising global temperatures in the past 10 years has hastened the melting of glaciers and ice caps the most. As for weather changes in Mongolia in the past two years, Khanbogd soum in Umnugovi Province and Saishand soum in Dornogovi Province reached the highest temperature level of 2014. The temperature is Khanbogd soum reached 41.4 degrees Celsius on July 17, 2014 and Saishand soum to 41 degrees Celsius on July 30, 2014. On the other hand, Tsetsen-Uul and Otgon soums in Zavkhan Province reached the lowest temperature, particularly to minus 47.2 degrees Celsius and minus 46.7 degrees Celsius respectively on February 3, 2014.

 Have natural disasters increased due to climate changes? 

Frequency of natural disasters has increased in recent years due to climate change. For example, 12 to 16 natural disasters occurred from 1991 to 1993, but from 2012 to 2014, around 85 to 123 natural disasters had occurred.  The frequency multiplied by 10 times within 20 years. Around 24 percent of occurring natural disasters in Mongolia are strong wind storms, 21 percent is heavy rainfall, and 13 percent is flash flood and thunderstorms.

Heavy rainfall, flood and wind gust were observed in Tushig soum in Selenge Province on July 4, 2013. In July 2014, some fierce hurricanes with heavy rains and large hails with a diameter of six cm spread to an area with longitude of 300 to 400 meters and latitude of 10 km in in Khashaat soum of Arkhangai Province. During this disaster, one person died and the total damage to property cost up to 413 million MNT. Besides strong winds and storms, Mongolia faced many damages because of water pollutions and flood. In the past 12 years, 424 people and 24.5 million livestock were killed by hydro-meteorological disasters and the total damage cost nearly 564.2 billion MNT. 41.2 percent of these people died because of strong wind storms and 22.4 died in fierce heavy rains and flash floods. 

Can you tell us about mining licenses, operations and rehabilitation in Mongolia? 

According to the report, 53 percent of environmental degradation is caused by human influences and the rest by nature itself. Mining operations give significant adverse impact to the environment. As of January 6, 2015, the government provided 2,736 mineral licenses for 11 million hectares of land, which is nearly seven percent of Mongolia’s total land. In the first half of 2014, 24,636.8 hectares of land was damaged by mining exploration. Out of 19,895.1 hectares damaged by mining businesses, 10,263.1 hectares received technical rehabilitation and 6,781.5 hectares received biological rehabilitation. Decisions to support gold mining are being issued in relation to Mongolia’s economic difficult situations. The MEGDT is urging requirements for rehabilitation for gold mining in accordance with mining legislations and environmental assessments. 

How is desertification in Mongolia?

Desertification is an important index expressing Mongolia’s as well as global environmental state. National assessment and mapping for desertification is released every five years and reported to the government in accordance to the National Action Program to Combat Desertification approved in 2010. Desertification studies made in 1990, 2000, 2007 and 2011 show that desertification processes related to natural factors and human activities have been increasing. In 2010, 77.8 percent of Mongolia’s total land was affected by land degradation and desertification process.

Currently, areas of 145 soum in desert and steppe region are affected by shifting sands. This is impacting negatively on people’s livelihood. Particularly, Khukhmurt and Jargalan soum of Govi-Altai Province, Zamiin-Uud and Urgun soums of Dornogobi Province, Tsogttsetsii and Khanbogd of Umnugobi Province, and Tuvshinshiree and Naran soums of Sukhbaatar Provinces are heavily affected by desertification and shifting sand. 

What’s impacting desertification of grazing land most?

Livestock have the most influence. The population of livestock in Mongolia fluctuated between 20 to 25 million from 1970 to 1990. However, this figure has doubled since 1995. Grazing capacity has exceeded by 32.5 percent, specifically 16 million livestock, according to reports from the Agency of Land Affairs, Geodesy and Cartography of Mongolia. Changes in herd composition led the population of goats, which bring the most adverse impact on grazing of Khangai and steppe regions, to increase to 46 percent of total livestock, making goats the main factor for degradation of pasture land. The Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Institute reported on soums with exceeded grazing capacity. They were: Bayannuur and Bulgan soums of Bayan-Ulgii Province; Tes, Zavkhan and Naranbulag soums of Uvs Province; Darvi, Mankhan, Zereg and Must soums of Khovd Province; Biger, Tonkhil and Chandmani soums of Govi-Altai Province; Bayanlig and Bumbugur soums of Bayankhongor Province; Ugiilnuur, Khashaat and Tsakhir soums of Arkhangai Province; Dashinchilen soum of Bulgan Province; West Bayan-Ulaan and Kharkhorin soums of Uvurkhangai Province; Sevrei and Khanbogd soums of Umnugobi Province; and Ulaanbadrakh, Khuvsgul, Mandakh, Khatanbulag, Saikhandulaan and Altanshiree soums of Dornogovi Province. 

Can you clarify on the latest water inventory data of Mongolia? Is desertification influencing the reduction of water resources?

In the last few years years, precipitation level has increased across the country and surface water resource increased by 4.3 percent compared to the average precipitation levels of many years. The data shows that rivers, streams and springs had recovered as well as increased. For example, there were 278 rivers and streams in the Tuul River basin in 2011 but it increased to 288, its 411 springs increased to 444, hot springs doubled from 16 to 36, and lakes increased from 92 to 95. Water levels of large lakes were gradually decreasing from 1996 to 2011. In 2013 and 2014, water levels of large lakes such as Khuvsgul and Khar-Us Lakes exceeded the average of previous years and Uvs Lake is stable at the average water level. Other lakes are at average level or a little lower.

 What are Mongolia’s ambitions for the next five years for improving environmental degradation?

Mongolia is upholding a policy to expand projects and services for the restoration of natural resources and increasing eco-investment and environmental jobs. We’re also executing a policy to centralize revenue from use fee of natural resources and other financial resources that are collected in provinces and put stricter control on this. This policy was enforced to support initiatives of private sectors and the public that are engaged in businesses for restoration of natural resources, environmental protection, waste recycling, reducing environmental pollution and minimizing water consumption.

The Article 6.2 in the Law on Environmental Protection of Mongolia states, “As provided by the law and treaty, citizens may own plants and forest planted and grown by themselves, bred animals, water basins, lakes and ponds formed by accumulation of rain water on the land of their ownership and possession as well as business entities or organizations on the land of their possession.”

The government will pay special attention to this provision and provide support through policy to increase jobs, create an additional source of income for the public, and help people own property and promote a broad range of activities.

Furthermore, projects to limit and stop air, soil and water pollution of large cities and settlements, effectively decrease pollution levels in stages, cooperate with related ministry, agency and provincial administrations on enforcing complex measures for improving effectiveness of environmental projects have been initiated and started. Environmental measures are taken with the main purpose to introduce and localize modern eco-friendly methods and technology to industries and services, as well as estimate damage of environmental and natural resources, and resolve rehabilitation and waste issues.

 

Source: www.news.mn

 

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Posted by on May 25 2015. Filed under Prime Interview. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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