Wednesday, 25 December 2013 12:27

120 hectares of saxaul forest is depleted in Mongolia

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saxaul_in_gobi_desertAbout 120 hectares of Saxaul (Haloxylon ammodendron) forest has been depleted for the past four decades since locals of Gobi desert used it for fuel, a report from the International Meeting on Sustainable Saxaul Forest Management says. The meeting  was held in Ulaanbaatar on December 17th, 2013.

This is not the first time the issue of protection and restoration of Saxual trees is being considered. Mongolia is a country with small forest resources. Mongolian forests consist of 140 species of trees, shrubs and woody plants, of which coniferous and deciduous forests constitute 75.2 percent, and Saxaul forests 24.8 percent. The first extensive ecological research on Saxaul trees and oasis in the Gobi desert was started in 1960s.

Study reveals that Saxaul forests usually grow in the arid and semi-arid and desert regions of Mongolia, where they are the dominant endemic brush type plant. The importance of the Saxaul forest to Mongolia is that they help to stabilize the active sand dunes and reduce the effects of sand storms. A decrease in the area of saxaul forests from logging and firewood gathering is probably single cause for why sand storms are becoming more harmful in Mongolia. And almost 80 percent of Saxaul forest is situated sparsely in territory across 5 -6 provinces in Mongolia.

As Mongolia's first “Desertification Atlas” summarizes, 72 percent of total Mongolia's territory has been affected by desertification to differing degrees, of which 23 percent was classified as slow, 26 percent as medium, 18 percent as much degraded, and 5 percent as highly affected. Now there is a great need to change the people’s mentality towards the community-based natural resource management.

During the meeting the chairman of Soil Conservation and Combat Desertification Department D.Batbayar said that “the Ministry of Environment and Green Development through technical assistance in 2014 will support an individual, an entity and a community who plant Saxaul trees”.