Case Study 3: Onstar Isei Lin Monastery
The following information has been extracted from the
Mongolian Buddhists Protecting Nature Handbook which can be downloaded in English and in Mongolian.
In partnership with the World Bank’s NEMO fund
In October 2005 Ontsar Isei Lin Monastery in Baganuur District, some 140 kilometres
west of Ulaanbaatar, launched a major project to document the environmental and
health impacts of the Baganuur coal mine. The mine extracts some 2.5 million tons
of coal every year, most of which is sent to Ulaanbaatar which relies on the mine for
70 percent of its coal.
The project, supported by the World Bank’s NEMO fund, was a response to the
suspicion that the mine’s operations were impacting seriously on residents’ health,
as well as that of the miners. As well as undertaking the baseline studies, activities
included setting up an environmental information and research centre in Baganuur
town, holding training workshops, working with families to mitigate some of the worst
effects of the pollution, and disseminating the results of the research.
When the results came in, they confirmed that Baganuur mine is indeed having a
significant negative effect on local residents’ health, as well as the health of the local
environment. The fine particles of coal dust, the high content of heavy metals found
in Baganuur coal and the chemical elements emitted during the mining process are
impacting upon local residents’ health. The mine’s impact extends to Ulaanbaatar
where the coal is consumed.
Recommendations ranged from introducing coal detoxification mechanisms in the
mine itself to setting up an information centre in the city, adding Buddhist teachings
on conservation onto school curricula, and teaching some practical solutions for
miners and their families to reduce the toxic effects of coal at a household level.
The research and outreach activities received strong community support, although
some resistance came from the District Governor’s office as well as from some local
There are currently 16 monks and eight support staff at Ontsar Isei Lin Monastery,
which was built in 1996, and then re-opened under its present name in 2003. It
contains the Zana Agvaanbaldan Research Centre, set up jointly with the Mongolian
National University’s Department of Buddhist Studies, with the mission of disseminating
religious knowledge to a lay public and sustaining its religious activities. With
additional funds, the monastery would like to undertake further environmental and
social activities. “We are truly interested in continuation of the project if there are
individuals and donors willing to render financial support,” says the head lama of
Ontsar Isei Lin Monastery.
The head lama says that although they cooperate with other temples and monasteries
on religious matters, there is no cooperation in the environmental field. He believes
environmental training for monks would help speed up this process. “We welcome
any similar projects and initiatives and express our readiness for their support and
our cooperation with them.”
Ven. Ojgoosh Tsatsralttor – Head Lama, Tel: +976-0121-22578; mobile: +976-
99110461; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mr. Kamo Yoshiaki, advisor for the
Pages about Mongolian Environmental Wisdom, taken from the Handbook.
The Mongolian Lord of Nature.
Sacred texts, places and ovoos.
Traditional Environmental Law in Mongolia.
The work that the monks, in conjunction with ARC and the World Bank and others, are carrying out to rediscover the sutras about sacred land in Mongolia.
Do you want to support this?
For full contact and address details of Mongolian Buddhist Monasteries, please see page 57 of the
Handbook. And for details of local Development, Environmental and Educational NGOs, please visit pages 58-59 of the
Other links to Mongolian Buddhism and the Environment
Link here to access the news story about the launch of the Mongolian Buddhist Handbook.
here to download the Mongolian Buddhist Handbook in English. (Please note this file is 1.15MB)
here to download the Mongolian version of the Handbook.(A 2MB file.)
Link here to download the guide to the Mongolian Buddhists’ Eight Year Plan (this file is 4.13MB).
Link to Mongolian Case Studies.
here on how to make contact with the Sangha.
To download the A3 poster of a new thangka about Buddhists protecting Nature, link
Brief History of Mongolian Buddhism.
Buddhism and the Environment.
Women in Buddhism in Mongolia.
Key Figures in Mongolian Buddhism.
Key Meetings in Mongolia.
Mongolian Buddhists and Development.
Mongolian Buddhists and Ecology.
Mongolian Buddhist Hunting Ban.
The Lost Sutras.