Climate Change will have a significant impact on many of the world’s plants and animals. While we intuitively think that the reverse is true, that is vegetation may slow the impacts of such change (in addition to its ability to sequester carbon), this World Bank report contains a great case study.
Hövsgöl National Park contains the ancient Lake Hövsgöl – known as “the blue pearl of Mongolia”. It is about 200 km southwest of Lake Baikal, in mountainous northern with long -40° winters. However the forest edge is retreating impacted by uncontrolled grazing by domestic animals – sheep, goats, and cattle – on the mountain slopes around the lake and the gathering of wood for fuel.
The loss of forest exposes the ground to sunlight and removes different plant covers that were insulating the permafrost. Preserving forest will slow the rate of permafrost melt and help to protect Mongolia’s water resources, biodiversity, and natural ecosystems.
The World Bank points out such lessons are relevant across Eastern Europe, Russia and the northern China mountains. Protecting these resources is not just for species but provides significant economic benefits.