How We Work

Mongolia’s eastern steppe contains an abundance of natural wonders: enormous stretches of grassland, rich deposits of minerals, a number of rare plant and animal species. But — as development increases and Mongolia seeks to tap into its vast resources — those assets also place the region’s environmental health in danger.

The Conservancy is protecting Mongolia’s grasslands so that they can continue to protect wildlife and aid people in Mongolia and throughout the world.

Working Locally to Protect Grasslands Globally 

Hundreds of years ago, grasslands covered more than a quarter of the planet. Today grasslands are among the most imperiled major habitats with only a small fraction remaining, and they are essential for sustaining life on planet Earth. We have a unique opportunity to conserve the extensive grasslands of Mongolia, while at the same time, preserving the region’s nomadic herding cultures and wide-ranging mammals.

The Nature Conservancy is partnering with national and regional governments, other conservation organizations and local people in creating a lasting natural legacy. The Conservancy is engaging in the protection of Toson Hulstai, a national nature reserve of almost a million acres by testing protected area and buffer zone strategies and creating partnerships with local and national stakeholders, including the Mongolia Ministry of Nature. Lessons learned from this endeavor will guide our strategies and priorities across Mongolia and can be replicated for other protected and mixed use conservation areas.

Working alongside the people that rely on these lands we will:

  • Combine our science-based methods with a people-focused approach to create regional plans that balance the interests of conservation with sustainable economic development, social welfare and nomadic traditions. By gathering, assessing and integrating environmental, social and economic information, the sustainable development plans will have government and popular backing while protecting Mongolia’s unique natural treasures.
  • Partner with corporations, government, non-profit and community leaders to assess risks and find effective, sustainable solutions.
  • Work across the Mongolia-China border to bring a host of policy initiatives aimed at protecting these grasslands, and facilitating a national environmental forum to advance a common environmental agenda.
  • Use on-the-ground techniques to help local communities establish and manage conservation areas and build bridges of knowledge between global grasslands.

Development by Design 

The Nature Conservancy is working to apply Development by Design planning that will safeguard Mongolia’s treasures. By ensuring that natural resources are used in sustainable ways that benefit both people and nature, Development by Design strategies help people conserve ecosystems while benefiting from their natural bounty.

“Development by Design planning will allow Mongolia to safeguard its most precious natural assets while ensuring that people still have access to the resources they need to build a healthy, thriving society,” says Enkhtuya Oidov, Mongolia Program Director.

Conservancy scientists are currently conducting a survey of Mongolia’s eastern steppe. By mapping the region’s ecosystems, the Conservancy is providing Mongolia with information necessary for charting a smart course into the future.

“Under the right circumstances, this survey is an effective means of setting clear objectives and establishing the partnerships and information necessary to achieve them,” says Mike Heiner, a Conservancy scientist who is aiding the Development by Design process in Mongolia. “Development by Design provides a decision-making framework to use this information for licensing and mitigation. In Mongolia, this information an decision-making framework are essential to guiding rapid development across this large and generally intact grassland.”