To leave Barcelona right when the first kick of the European championship soccer final starts is dumb. Even dumber is to land in Lisbon when Barcelona wins and celebration throughout the city starts. But that's what I did last week and I will not complain… Lisbon is a beautiful town. It is warm but pleasant, Portuguese is soft and musical, and the food is delicious.
Last weekend a small group of us decided to drive the 8 hours or so to the Khonin Nuga (pronounced Honing Nuk) research station, northwest of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. We had a standing invitation to visit the site for years from Professor Michael Mühlenberg of Georg-August University in Göttingen, Germany, and Professor R. Samiya of National University, Ulaanbaatar – who together run the station. The route took us through the town of Zuun Kharaa, the vodka-producing capital of Mongolia, and off towards the dark-green forested mountains of the western Khentii. We saw Mongolia’s largest bird, the Black Vulture, and also the respected and graceful Demoiselle Cranes picking up grasshoppers among the wind-blown solid waste around the town. We were going to spend the night in the research station, discuss with Prof. Mühlenberg the possibility of using the site as a training center within the forest landscapes project we are preparing, and find time to explore the taiga forest and steppe by horse. And then we were going to do the bumpy ride home again.
Instead, we found ourselves facing a major forest fire. (Continue reading after the jump)
|Pongtip Puvacharoen works at the World Bank's East Asia and Pacific stand on the first day of Carbon Expo in Barcelona.|
Carbon finance sounds boring and technical and not much fun. However, it actually does a lot of good and can help fund critical environmental preservation projects as well as introduce clean and renewable technologies in both developed and developing countries.
"I was swimming in the river near Godmanchester and I got the fright of my life when a large triangular dorsal fin broke the surface of the water just in front of me. It was so close I could have touched it."
|Children perform during "Call for Green China" – a unique cultural tour to raise awareness about pressing environmental issues in China and possible solutions.|
Other factors are more long term – the sandstorms common when I lived here in 1986 are largely gone, owing to successful re-greening efforts west of here. There was a frenzied pace of construction as modern Beijing was being built, which has naturally slowed down – construction dust was a key part of air pollution here.
There is more room for improvement, but the progress was notable during a lovely April. One key issue going forward will be to continue to control private vehicle use.
Bogd Khan Uul Strictly Protected Area (SPA) (41,651 ha) is located on the edge of Mongolia's capital city, Ulaanbaatar, and dominates the views to the south. It is the oldest continuously protected area in Mongolia and possibly the world, being first established in 1778. Its establishment preceded by almost 100 years that of Yellowstone National Park in the United States. There is evidence the area held informal protective status as early as the 12th century. Bogd Khan Uul holds significant historical and cultural importance (pdf) for the people of Mongolia. In 1995, Bogd Khan Uul was formally designated a 'Strictly Protected Area' in accordance with current Mongolian law. Bogd Khan Uul was further recognized for its ecological importance when it was awarded UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status in 1997.
|Hover over "Notes" for photo information.
So, if one were going to undertake a conservation project focusing on forests in the central part of Mongolia, one would reckon on including it, right? Wrong.