Mongolia is a place of spectacular natural beauty with strong cultural heritage and some of the world’s last great deserts and grasslands. Still undeveloped, it is home to rolling steppes, abundant wildlife and people with a strong connection to the land. But change is coming quickly to Mongolia. The country’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. Leaders there are facing difficult decisions on how best to balance rapid development with the needs of pastoral livelihoods and conservation of rare and remarkable natural assets.
Using the science and planning methods of Development by Design, the Conservancy is working with the Mongolian government, industry and local communities to create a blueprint for sustainable development in many parts of the country.
In the Eastern Steppe, we are already helping to preserve important grasslands that local herding communities and rare wildlife — like the Mongolian Gazelle — need to thrive. Through on-the-ground science, modeling and mapping, the Conservancy is helping steer development away from precious wild places, maintain healthy natural areas, and offset and minimize impacts when they do occur.
Likewise, we are leading a similar effort in the Gobi region to support better decision-making for where development could occur—and where it shouldn’t—based on factors important for the long-term health of wildlife, natural systems, and herding communities. The Mongolian government has invited the Conservancy to undertake a “landscape planning” project—this means the Conservancy is doing an assessment of the entire region – identifying critical areas and overlaying them with the highest probability areas for future mining and infrastructure development. We are engaging leaders from government, the academic community, NGOs, industry and local herding communities to identify a vision for the Gobi region: one that balances development and conservation for the benefit of people and nature.
Decisions made today will affect the lands in Mongolia for decades to come. Through the Conservancy’s work in both the Eastern Steppe and the Gobi regions, we are helping decision-makers reduce conflicts between development and conservation goals, avoid or offset the impacts of development, and support win-win solutions.
It is our hope that together we can develop a plan that is shared, adopted, and applied by government, industry, lending institutions, and communities for land-use decisions to support healthy natural systems and a more sustainable country.