Mongolia team at wind farm
Mongolia team at wind farm Nature Conservancy staff and dignitaries from Mongolia visit an Indiana wind farm. © Angela Sturdevant/TNC

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Mongolian Dignitaries Visit Northwest Indiana

Information exchange learning tour on grassland habitat

Morocco, IN

Despite its distance from the Midwest, Mongolia’s grasslands are very similar to what was once found in abundance in northwest Indiana. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) works in both regions protecting and restoring critical grassland habitat.

This week, a delegation of dignitaries from Mongolia visited northwest Indiana to learn how better to protect grasslands, which span 80 percent of their country. The delegation included the Director of the Department of Environment and Tourism, the Head of the Division of Geology and Mining Monitoring, the advisor to Environment and Rural Development Standing Committee of Parliament of Mongolia, and the Senior Officer of the Mineral Resources and Petroleum Agency.

The Nature Conservancy’s Indiana Chapter and its Mongolia Program organized the tour with the Mongolia delegation to facilitate a learning exchange related to grassland restoration, mitigation and preserve management.

“Grassland habitats in Mongolia and Indiana face many of the same issues, such as climate change and habitat degradation,” said John Shuey, director of conservation science for The Nature Conservancy in Indiana. “These types of information exchanges help us share solutions to these very real problems.”

The Nature Conservancy is celebrating ten years of working in Mongolia. The country is home to the largest intact temperate grassland in the world, and the opportunity to protect it is what brought TNC to Mongolia in 2008.

The first stop in their visit to the Hoosier state was the Conservancy’s Kankakee Sands restoration project in Newton County. The Conservancy has been restoring thousands of acres of prairie and wetland at the site for more than 20 years. In 2016, the site welcomed a herd of bison to help with its prairie restoration efforts. Now up to 51, the herd’s grazing habits help promote a more diverse prairie.

While at Kankakee Sands, the Mongolian delegation learned in detail the mitigation and restoration work at Kankakee in the context of mitigation banking. They also learned about the Conservancy’s restoration work at the site.

On Thursday, the Mongolian delegation visited EDP Renewables’ Meadow Lake Wind Farm in Chalmers, Indiana, which consists of five operational phases and a sixth phase currently under construction.  The soon-to-be 800 megawatt (MW) six-phase wind farm will produce enough clean electricity to annually power more than 209,000 average Indiana homes.

On the wind farm tour, the Mongolian entourage learned about the development and operations of a wind farm as well as the numerous economic and environmental benefits the wind farm provides.  The group also garnered ideas for furthering renewable energy adoption in Mongolia. 

“We have much work to do in Mongolia to protect its vast, unspoiled landscape,” said Galbadrakh (Gala) Davaa, director of conservation for TNC’s Mongolia Program. “We all want healthy, productive places to live. We are working together to learn how to do the best we can for people and nature.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.