Community conservation in grassland of Mongolia

Project Facts

01/01/2017 30/12/2019
Payment Mechanisms / Support

Anne Ray Foundation, TNC Mongolia, Saruul Khuduu ERC

East-SE Asia
Khovd, Khentii, Khuvsgul, In 2018, the fieldwork was specifically focused on Bayanzurkh soum, Khuvsgul aimag

Case overview/description

Main Challenges
Restoring grassland, Sustainable grassland management
Starting point/ Challenges

overgrazing, weakened rangeland governance: increased competition over pastures, and reduced mobility of pastoral households, increased poverty and observed changes in climate in the form of raising air temperature and increasing frequencies of hazardous climatic events

In 2018, the site work has on capacity building of pastoral institutions to aid members addressing these problems.

Purpose/ Objectives addressed, Results expected

By 2030, adapt the collaborative management model tested at Toson Hulstai Nature Reserve in steppe grassland of Eastern Mongolia to support the establishment of a new community-led conservation model that will help expand sustainable grassland management as a critical step toward protecting 30 percent of Mongolia’s landscapes                                                                      Objective 1: Local communities’ capacity for community-led grassland management is strengthened through three pilot projects that provide access to information and training, knowledge exchanges, and increased self-organization and participation in land-use planning, leading to better conservation outcomes and improved community well- being                                                        

Objective 2: A suite of sustainable livelihood programs that diversify income sources, protect against livestock loss and increase the value of livestock products is identified and evaluated, and work with herders to implement at least two programs is begun. 

Objective 3: Monitoring protocols to measure and adapt our work in Mongolia are refined and implemented, and strategies, outcomes and lessons are shared internally and with the global conservation community

In 2018, the work towards Objective 1 for capacity building of herder communities has been prioritized.

Type of Case
Research, Capacity building, Conservation
Agroecological zone
Arid (< 75 LGP)
Exploring potentials / Specific Payments

not considered yet, but seek options for ecosystem service payments to pastoral herders

Land area size (km2)
7 bags (the smallest administrative unit in Mongolia) in four counties of three provinces in Mongolia involving over 4000 population (1079 households as of 2016). In 2018, two bags in Bayanzurkh soum of Khuvsgul aimag were involved i
Number of people
involving over 4000 population (1079 households as of 2016). 2018, two bags in Bayanzurkh soum of Khuvsgul aimag were involved in capacity-building work. 13 pastoral groups with 150 herder households with over 300 adult members.



Land ownership
Ownership comments

customary access to state-owned rangeland resources by pastoral households.

In 2018, 13 pastoral groups submitted their Rangeland ecosystem management plan to Soum authorities to obtain priority access rights to resources in their customary territories, which was approved. Along the approved plan, the groups obtained land tenure certification to manage resources on the group territories.


Livestock system
Livestock Type
Cattle, Camels, Goats, Horses, Sheep
Comment livestock systems

semi-nomadic pastoral livestock system

five types of livestock including sheep, goat, cattle, camel and horses, where sheep and goat population dominate

Operating environment

free market system

Comment Operating Environment

Ecosystems and habitats:

a) Mountain grassland ecosystem in the Western Mongolia,

b) Mountain and forest grassland ecosystem in the Northern Mongolia, and

c) Steppe grassland ecosystem of the Eastern Mongolia. 

Work in 2018 took place in the mountain and forest steppe ecological zone of Northern Mongolia.

Participants in the case/project

local herders, provincial, county and bag authorities, TNC Mongolia officers, Saruul Khuduu ERC team

Methods / Approaches applied to reach objectives

community-based participatory approach

In 2018, along with participatory tools, we used the social dimension of the Ontology model, namely, 23 indicators within six different scales (entities) identified during 2017 Montpellier workshop, which contribute to SDG 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 13, 15, 17

Outcome/ Beneficiaries/ Issues

Sustainability regarding economic issues

the project targets to increase the diversity of income sources to reduce the dependence on livestock-related incomes, which has great risks due to increasing disasters

Sustainability regarding social issues

The project aims to build capacity of the community-based pastoral institutions to be able manage their resources while improving well-being of members

Sustainability regarding ecological issues

Building on the improved institutions and its resource management, the herder communities are expected to maintain the ecosystem services from nature.

Knowledge Exchange

the project supports knowledge exchange in both vertical and horizontal directions from the pastoral institutional perspectives. Horizontal include exchanges with peers in neighboring communities with whom they share the resources within and outside their communities. The vertical exchange include herders learning from local authorities and external experts, while sharing their traditional knowledge with them in return.

In 2018, Saruul khuduu conducted series of capacity-building training and workshops among local herders towards enabling their access to information and knowledge exchange among them.

Key Conflicts / Problems

mistrust between the herders and local government officers, increasing disputes over grazing resources among herders due to growing livestock population, the lack of herders' access to adequate information and learning and their isolation from the social services present the greatest challenge to the project.

To address these issues, in 2018, Saruul Khuduu ERC facilitated several workshops among herders bringing representatives of local authorities to increase their understanding of each other's work, discuss common problems and strengthen cooperation between them.

Lessons learnt

Working with pastoralists according to a plan has been a great challenge due to their strong dependence on weather and seasonal features of pastoral livestock husbandry, also gathering the scattered herders into community meetings poses a logistic challenge to the project operation.

Research Gaps

uncertainty for future funding that affects research planning.

In 2018, we identified a new issue of wastes in rural areas, particularly, plastics and automobile-related wastes, which has a very harmful effect on soil and biodiversity. Research is necessary to quantify the extent of the problems and social aspects of waste management in remote rural areas.



community-based conservation, Mongolia, pastoralism, ecosystem services, rangeland conservation

Source of information
no sources yet, as the project is only in its beginning stage