Youth Environmental Leadership Program
Youth Leadership at Dongzhulin
Dongzhulin* Monastery is located on the upper reaches of the Jinsha River, in the Sichuan-Yunnan fault belt region at an elevation of 3000 meters above sea level. The Jinsha River cuts through the high mountains and valleys of the Hengduan Mountains, forming this region’s characteristic hot and dry climate. The Dongzhulin Monastery is located in one of the most arid sections of the Jinsha River basin. The combination of intense sunshine with very little and seasonal rainfall has led to very poor soil quality in the already thin soil layer. During the rainy summer months, soil erosion due to rainfall is an extremely serious problem.
The Qinghai-Tibet plateau has many fragile ecosystems that are in need of protection, and for a large portion of the local population, conservation is a part of their belief system. However, due to development caused by urbanization, adherence to traditional beliefs is on the decline, and environmental problems are becoming increasingly serious.
To address this, the Dongzhulin Monastery has been working for years to integrate promoting traditional Tibetan cultural heritage and religious beliefs with advocating for environmental conservation. With the support of the NGS Air and Water Conservation Fund and SISC, the monastery has utilized the sermons by Living Buddha as an opportunity to reach out to society and bring information about environmental protection to local people.
NGS Youth Environmental Leadership Project has created a platform for the young monks at Dongzhulin Monastery to learn that their own activities can be the driving force for change and progress. From 2014 to 2015, 30 young monks from ages 12-25 participated in the project. Guided by project teachers, the students completed 10 smaller environmental protection projects that addressed environmental education in the community.
Today, the Buddhist concept of protecting life extends to engaging in activities that influence others and bring about a positive change.
Planting and protecting trees has long been an important component of the Dongzhulin Monastery’s daily efforts, and the pine forest outside the walls of the monastery is a testament to the monks’ many years of hard work. Extending this tradition to fortify the soil of steep hills with trees is one of many environmental projects NGS supports.
* “Dongzhu” means “beneficial to all”. With over 300 years of history, Dongzhulin Monastery is one of the 13 largest monasteries in the Tibetan region and has enormous influence within the local Tibetan community.