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NGS Youth Environmental Leadership Project

The Qinghai-Tibet plateau has many fragile ecosystems that are in need of protection. To address this issue, the NGS Youth Environmental Leadership Project has created a platform for young monks at Dongzhulin Monastery to see how their own activities can drive change and progress.

Dongzhulin Monastery is located on the upper reaches of the Jinsha River, on the border between Sichuan and Yunnan province, at an elevation of 3000 meters above sea level. The Jinsha River cuts through the high mountains, forming a sharp contrast with the hot and dry environment of the valley. The combination of intense sunshine, sparse rainfall, and steep hills leads to massive soil erosion and poses a serious problem. Protecting the plants and trees in the local forest has become an important component of the monk’s daily work, and the large pine forest outside the walls of Dongzhulin Monastery is a testament the monks’ many years of labor.

Left: A young monk from Dongzhulin Monastery planting a pine tree sapling with bare hands in a steep and arid slope.
Right: Monks showing the results of former efforts to explain the importance of forest protection to nearby communities. (Photos by Xiao Lin)

From 2014 to 2015, 30 young monks from ages 12-25 completed 10 environmental protection activities so far. Their goal is to develop and promote youth environmental leadership through student actions, driving community participation and further environmental protection efforts. The project is co-sponsored by the National Geographic Society and SISC, and receives financial support from Alibaba.