Mongolia is a developing country with a small population (around 3 million people) and vast territory (1,564,116 square kilometers) where the nomadism coexist with modern urban lifestyles. Approximately 30% of the population is nomadic or semi-nomadic.
According to the National Statistic Office of Mongolia, 293,620 herders owning a total of 51.9 million livestock were reported, made up of 349,299 camels 2,995,754 horses, 3,413,851 cattle, 23,214,783 sheep, and 22,008,896 goats by 2014. At the herder household level, utilization of stockbreeding manure is mostly used for heating of dwellings and bedding for livestock barn in smaller amount than its production. Study suggests that utilization of feedstock is low about 5 -100 t/yr at herder household level in Mongolia. Despite numerous advantages and potentials, activities related biochar (although it is difficult to distinguish between biochar and charcoal in the terminology, in this document we referred charcoal as a carbonized material from the wood and biochar as a produced from the other bio-sources) in Mongolia are started just recently and only few small scale pilot projects are implemented since 2008. Study estimates that additional income for the total herders and biochar producers will be around 330,0 billion MNT/year (MNT-abbreviation of Mongolian currency “Tugrug”. One US dollar is equal to ~2000 tugrug).
Moreover, in last two decades near the settlement areas and villages intensive farming of cow, pig and poultry is increasing rapidly thus emerging serious problems on environment including soil, air and waste management.
Within a biochar project, emissions reductions (ERs) could come from changing fresh organic matter to a much more stable form of carbon through the production of biochar, from increasing soil carbon stocks upon biochar application, possible reductions in soil emissions of GHGs, enhanced carbon storage in growing crops and decreases in fertilizer and other energy-intensive agricultural inputs.
The project would implement climate change mitigation and adaptation measures at the same time and it consist of following two pillars:
a). The pilot projects to test the feasibility of utilizing biochar production by small scale herder families, vegetable gardeners, and forestry workers on an individual and community level to increase income, improve soils, and to combat land degradation and global warming. The biochar would be returned to the agricultural fields to improve soil fertility and water management. The level of desertification and prevailing factors of land degradation was estimated and mapped in 2013, and result of this research shows 77.8 percent of the total territory affected by degradation, of which 9.9 percent extremely degraded.
b). The other challenge is that herder families are nomadic which means they scattered to wide areas which is hard to measure the manure productions and implement MRV for small scale farmers and for herder families. Thus, the feasibility study that will check the possibility of establishing MRV system for nomadic herders and small scale farmers is the challenge to pursue with this project.
Currently, we proposing following five main project activities which could be modified thought the technical assistance from the CTCN and it includes: a). evaluating the availability of existing biomass which could be used to produce biochar and analyzing the biochar produced from that source and possibility to establish MRV; b) assessing technologies to produce and transport biochar and from that assessment, constructing/purchasing a unit; c) implementing a mini-scale and a small- to medium-scale biochar production pilot facility including monitoring performance; d) establishing the research plots to for the biochar to analyze costs, application, benefits, and changes in soil organic matter; and finally, e) analyzing the potential biochar-related revenues such as carbon credits, farming gains, and price of biochar (if sold to outside parties).
The beneficial potential of biochar as an approach to address several environmental challenges: the need for waste management, clean bioenergy, improving degraded soils and mitigating climate change is widely spurred interest in last two decades in the world. Specifically, the project can help to:
- Increase income for herders, vegetable gardeners, and forestry workers on an individual and community level and create the green jobs in urban areas
- Increase efficient use of agricultural waste and forest cleaning waste
- Reduce soil degradation, soil contamination and odor problem near urban areas
- Reduce GHG emissions from unhandled manure management and increase GHG removals through carbon sequestration in the pastureland soil and vegetation growth
- Increase water holding capacity in the soil
- Decrease fertilizer application per area unit by 2-3 times
- Decrease overusing of forest resource (illegal logging)
- Substantial amount of biochar storage with higher calorific value (28-33MJ/kg) than wood (18 MJ/kg) and coal (15-31MJ/kg) will help to overcome the severe cold of winter disaster named “Zhud”.