The Dyfodol youth team are now in Mongolia having travelled overland to Ulaanbaatar by train. Taking the train was a statement of intent for a positive change to the environment.
Now at their final destination, the team of 11 are working with their Mongolian counterparts to discuss the direct impact of climate change on Mongolian lives and putting together a campaign for young people to work within communities and set up climate change projects on their return to Wales.
Some thoughts from the train:
I felt a bit emotional on our last day onboard the Trans-Mongolian.
Traveling here to Ulaanbaatar, required 7 train changes and moving the clocks forward 7 hours. Living for five nights on the same train.
I think we had all became quite attached to it; the clunking of the wheels 24/7, the random jerks, jolts, and halts all seemed so familiar and friendly by the time we left it’s hard to imagine how very strange it feels to be sat, not rocking too and fro.
Poland – flat, green fields with occasional farms and minimal trees.
Belarus – less farms but more little ‘cabin-esque’ houses and trees.
Russia – expanding, spartan, dusty plains and Peter and the Wolf style looming forest with scattered little villages of oddly shaped houses, painted bright blues and greens.
Meeting cool passengers, telling us their individual stories.
Collecting footage of the sound of the train.
A Thai man playing us tunes on a ukelele.
Mistakenly thinking spending 5 nights on a train as boring and dull – wrong!
Some thoughts on climate change in-country:
It’s a big problem… a huge problem. Especially here, in Mongolia. 90% of land is vulnerable to desertification. It’s landlocked, mountainous terrain with high altitude. There is a moisture deficit, low humidity and high temperature fluctuation. Not a good start.
Humans drink a lot of water and use a lot doing other stuff like farming and within industry. Development in an area like this, where water is scarce already, is a bit of a no-no, but we do it anyway. In Mongolia the mining industry is using a lot of water where there isn’t much already.
The land is often over-used – leading to land degradation, depleted of nutrients and plants can’t grow. Deserts start to take over.
Building stuff like roads doesn’t help with the dust.
It rains all the bloody time in Wales and don’t I complain about it. I long for the sun most of the time but in fact we’re pretty damn lucky.
Humans too are suffering from the lack of water with soil fertility problems and lack of green cover. If less food can be grown, less people eat. Respiratory diseases are on the up because of the atmospheric dust. People are having to move to places where they have a better chance of survival.
We visited a major reforestation project where a green belt of trees is to be planned pretty much across the whole of Mongolia to stop the spread of it’s deserts. This consists of a lot of planting, monitoring, research and training.
Using indigenous trees, they have put in a lot of effort and generated employment within the local community (a local family looks after the site we visited, in exchange for a bit of space for agroforestry) and have trained up a load of people to keep the project full of momentum.
Trees take root, they support life, encourage rain fall. They are a physical barrier and they break up wind. They provide shade, habitat, employment, food if managed properly. All over pretty amazing.
It’s not just planting trees that stop deserts from spreading. Stopping the causes in the first place is a much better way:
Sustainable agriculture, better grazing management, greater respect for nature, tighter laws, better technology that has less impact, monitoring, international support and action… these are a few of my favourite things…