1 Week Left!

In one week, I will be stepping on a plane headed for Mongolia.

 Mongolia is the 18th-largest and the most sparsely populated sovereign state in the world, with a population of around three million people. Approximately 30% of the population is nomadic or semi-nomadic; horse culture is still integral, and horses outnumber people.

 Economic activity in Mongolia has long been based on herding and agriculture, although development of extensive mineral deposits of copper, coal, molybdenum, tin, tungsten and gold have emerged as a driver of industrial production. Minerals represent more than 80% of Mongolia's exports, a proportion expected to eventually rise to 95%.

 Climate change has threatened the ways of life for traditional pastoralist herders, as it is a driving factor of disruptive duds, also known as natural disasters. Winter storms, droughts periods, and extreme temperatures have become more frequent. Fertile land is drying out, at least 90% of Mongolia's pastureland has experienced some level of desertification. The Gobi Desert is expected to creep northward at approximately 6–7 km / year, further limiting pasture land.  

 Actions are being taken to protect this wild landscape and the nomadic cultures that depend on it.

 Over 240 years after it created the world's first national park, Mongolia continues its conservation legacy with the government’s extraordinary commitment to create 22 new National Protected Areas covering 8.4 million acres—an area larger than the state of Maryland. This landmark victory means that Mongolia will have protected about 20 percent of its important grasslands. The new preserves are off-limits to mining development, excavation, timber harvesting and other activities that may negatively impact ecosystem health.

 For over a decade, The Nature Conservancy has collaborated with government and herding communities to put Mongolia’s grasslands on a sustainable path. With in-country partners, The Conservancy conducted a nationwide, landscape-level planning process that informed a draft protected area master plan, which includes these newly designated reserves. In addition, The Conservancy’s Mongolia staff have worked tirelessly to support legislation that advances conservation.

 In one week, I will have the honor to experience this beautiful country first hand. Some of the areas I will visit or be riding across are these protected areas. After the start gun fires I want the opportunity to continue raising money in support for the important work The Nature Conservancy is doing in partnership with the government and herding communities, protecting this amazing landscape. To support The Conservancy directly during or after the race donate here.

 Thank you to everyone who has supported me. I hope you will continue to follow along as the race beings. I will be posting updates on Instagram and you will be able able to track my progress on my website under the “Track Me” page.

Rachel Roman