The Gobi desert is one of the world’s last great deserts, home to abundant wildlife and people with a strong connection to the land. It is a place of spectacular natural beauty and strong cultural heritage. Change is coming quickly to Mongolia, especially the South Gobi. The region’s rich natural resources have made the country increasingly attractive for many mineral development projects. This creates tremendous opportunity for the people and their standard of living. But, it also places significant pressures on the natural environment. The region’s mining and infrastructure projects are supporting economic development, but they also have the potential to impact wildlife and traditional communities that live off the land. Decisions are being made today that will affect this landscape forever.
The Mongolian government invited The Nature Conservancy to undertake a landscape planning project for the Gobi region, working with stakeholders from government, business, and communities. This project furthered the Conservancy’s mission to protect land and water for people and for nature by supporting better planning and decision-making for development and conservation. The Conservancy applied an innovative, science-based process called Development by Design (DbD) to help reduce conflicts between development and conservation goals, avoid or offset the impacts of development, and support win-win solutions for the region.
The Conservancy has additional experience applying the DbD approach in Mongolia, where they also developed a landscape plan for the Eastern Steppe region in 2010. Financial support for the landscape planning project in the Gobi was provided through a grant from Rio Tinto. Development by design has the potential to engage many other regional development projects and ensure more robust outcomes for conservation and effective management of cumulative impacts. The DbD project should inform the conservation and development issues across the wider South Gobi region, not just for one project such as Oyu Tologi.
For a full report on Rio Tinto and the Conservancy’s efforts in Mongolia, read the corporate case study about our results.
Progress and Projects
Through a science-based approach we are helping to balance the needs of planned development – like oil and gas, mining and infrastructure – with those of conservation.
We are working with the Mongolian government, industry and local communities to create a blueprint for sustainable development in many parts of the country.