Projects overview
Americas projects
Asia projects
Asian Buddhist Network
Southeast Asia
East Timor
Indonesia: Christian
Mongolia: Buddhists
CASE STUDIES from Mongolia
Papua New Guinea
Indonesia: Muslim
China projects
Education and water
Faith in food
Faiths for Green Africa
Green pilgrimage network
Living churchyards
Long-term plans
Major ARC events
Religious forests
Sacred gifts
Sacred land
Other projects
ARC Home > Projects > Asia projects :
CASE STUDIES from Mongolia | Case Study 1: Gandan Tegchenling Monastery | Case Study 2: The Erdene Zuu Endeavor | Case Study 3: Onstar Isei Lin Monastery | Case Study 4: Dashchoilin Monastery | Case Study 5: Amarbayasgalants Monastery | Case Study 6: Khamar Khiid | Case Study 7: Luvsandanzanjantsan Studies Centre | Case Study 8: Gandandarjaaling Monastery

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 Christians.

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: Mr. Kamo Yoshiaki, advisor for the project.

Pages about Mongolian Environmental Wisdom, taken from the Handbook.

The Mongolian Lord of Nature.

Sacred texts, places and ovoos.

Sacred sites in Mongolia.

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 Handbook.

Other links to Mongolian Buddhism and the Environment

Link here to access the news story about the launch of the Mongolian Buddhist Handbook.

Link here to download the Mongolian Buddhist Handbook in English. (Please note this file is 1.15MB)

Link 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.

And here on how to make contact with the Sangha.

To download the A3 poster of a new thangka about Buddhists protecting Nature, link here (5.61MB).

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.

< to previous page to top of page to next page >
ARC site map

Related information

How does ARC work with the faiths?
We list some of the far-reaching ways that faiths can affect their environment
What does Buddhism teach about ecology?
A brief outline of the teachings of ecology in Buddhism
Last updated: September 24, 2009 :
Latest news on the Long Term Commitments
A sample of some of the faith groups around the world that are creating Five, Seven, Eight and Nine Year Plans to protect the natural environment, through the UNDP-ARC framework.