The forest will be planted as circles around the city core and throughout the province. We hope that one day the five circles around Darkhan will be visible from space. They will be named the Forest Munkh Tsetseg or Forest of the Eternal Flower.
a Mongolian Rangers and TEERS-Canada Project:
Forest Munkh TseTseg - Forest of the Eternal Flower
  Darkhan, Mongolia  

Built in the early 1960s with not inconsiderable help from Mongolia’s Soviet rulers. When it was completed the whole enterprise was heralded as a modern socialist miracle. Nowadays though, it is suffering a massive hangover from the Communist era. Without technology and finance provided from the now defunct USSR, Darkhan has begun to crumble. Darkhan has been described as bleak and in the most part derelict. The Soviets built the industrial base close enough to the city so that much of the smoke and pollution drifts over and falls on the city. One of the more noteworthy polluters is the Darkhan Cement Plant. Fly ash from this coal fired plant is released directly into the atmosphere, causing significant air pollution. For each ton of fly ash generated one ton of carbon dioxide is released over the city.The Soviet Regime built and now Mongolian state owned Erdenet Copper Mine produces about 22 million tons of slurry annually. The byproduct of the excavation is sand containing high amounts of heavy metals including arsenic, silver, mercury, cadmium, and more. These unprotected sands are blown by the winds and the metals have leached into the groundwater, causing an increase in cancers and other health-related concerns due to water contamination.

Possible Sites
  Another Soviet decision was to clear cut most of the forests surrounding the city leaving the sandy soil baron and unprotected. Exposed to the severity of the winds there was nothing to prevent dust bowl conditions. Soil erosion and sand drift are cited as the key environmental problems in Darkhan. Pollution and erosion of 1 m2 of land has reached 30.0 percent on average and the rate of erosion is considered to be high.

Remaining forest reserves are declining, primarily as a result of illegal tree cutting by residents for use as fuel, which is contributing to erosion problems. In a 10 year span—1985 to 1995—the equivalent of 65 years worth of tree growth were lost. Of the 73,600 hectares of forest destroyed during that period, only about 10 percent were destroyed by fire, and the rest were for household fuel consumption.The Kharaa river can be seen running adjacent to Darkhan. It is 2.5 to 4.0 times more polluted than the permitted levels. The flow and direction of the river has begun to change, because forests and river embankments are being destroyed.The following results were obtained by land inspection in 2001:

  • 21,560 hectares are in normal condition;
  • 1,655 hectares have been destroyed by off-road vehicles;
  • 3 hectares covered by gorges and eroded by floods;
  • 2 hectares polluted by household wastes;
  • 16,541 hectares eroded. Erosion levels are:
  • 2,593 hectares or 15.6% eroded at medium.
  • 13,948 hectares or 84.4% eroded significantly.
  • 41.6% of total pasture lands eroded and 4.2% affected by other impacts.
Darkhan City

Reforestation as been ranked as the second in priority projects needed by the city of Darkhan. To implement our Protect Darkhan from Sand Drifting program we will be recreating the forests that were clear cut during the Russian regime. The forest will be planted as circles around the city core. We hope that one day the five circles will be visible from space. They will be named the Forest Munkh Tsetseg or Forest of the Heavenly Flower.

This reforestation project will help clean the air, retain the soil, bring birds and wildlife back, provide a wind break for the city, etc,. We are going to try for around 500,000 trees or about 500 hectares, 5 x 100 hectare circles. We have asked one of our rescue team sponsors, RadarSat Canada, if they can locate images of the area so we can have a bird's eye view of the topography and ground cover.

The seeds and planting instructions will be sent to schools in Darkhan. Twelve seeds to each child under 18. The new forest becomes a class and a school project, an educational project, an ecological project and a continuing education project as the birds and wildlife return to the canopy of the maturing trees. The children will grow and plant their own seedlings. They are responsible for their own trees for life. They grow and mature with the child. We feel this sense of ownership will help to protect the forest for generations. We are sure they will tell stories to their grandchildren about the forest they planted when they were young and about their trees, the birds and animals that came, etc. A continuing education project and gift from all of those involved that will span a few generations.

© Mongolian Rangers