Capacity Building for Mongolian MEGDT: Biodiversity and Conservation in the southern Gobi Desert


The Nature Conservancy Mongolia Conservation

​The Mongolian Gobi region is part of the largest steppe ecosystem in the world that supports its historic wildlife assemblage, including long distance wildlife migrations, as well as traditional nomadic pastoralism.  The region currently supports 33 animals listed as nationally threatened or endangered, including the world’s largest remaining populations of Khulan (Equus hemionus), Mongolian gazelle (Procapra gutturosa), Goitered gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa), wild Bactrian camel (Camelus ferus) and Siberian ibex (Capra sibirica).

However, the wildlife and pastoral livelihoods of this area are threatened by rapid growth in mining and related infrastructure. Mining development in the Gobi region is occurring faster than the national trend. In 2012, 24% of the area had been leased for exploration and another 32% available for lease. The largest active projects include the Nariin Sukhait / Ovoot Tolgoi coal mine, the Tavan Tolgoi (TT) coal mines and the Oyu Tolgoi (OT) copper mine. Though the direct impacts of mining on land and water are significant and can reach far beyond the mine site, an urgent threat to wide-ranging wildlife is created by transportation infrastructure and traffic to support mining operations that create barriers to movement. Mitigating the impacts of these rapid developments on South Gobi biodiversity is an urgent priority for the government of Mongolia, but addressing these issues has been constrained by a lack of biological data at regional and local scales, cooperative data sharing, and landscape scale assessments. The purpose of this project was to help facilitate and coordinate these efforts and to assist the Mongolian Ministry of Environment, Green Development and Tourism (MEGDT) in building their internal capacity to manage these issues.

The overall objective of the project was to build capacity in the region for addressing conservation at a landscape level by assisting MEGDT and other stakeholders in the identification, review, assessment, implementation and monitoring of mitigation and other conservation measures in the Southern Gobi. The specific objectives were as follows:  

  • Help promote ongoing and planned future development in the southern Gobi through capacity building, using sound measures for the conservation of biodiversity.
  • To facilitate cooperation between interested parties (including MEGDT, private companies working in the area and other interested stakeholders) to ensure sharing of data and information to allow landscape level design (i.e. regional planning approach) for conservation measures in the south Gobi.  
  • To provide capacity building assistance to the MEGDT on the approach for landscape level design and other issues related to environmental protection.
  • To assist in the application/promotion of the mitigation hierarchy to the current situation in the south Gobi, and to further apply this to anticipated future development of the region.

To meet these objectives four main tasks were defined and completed as described in the report and annexes:

1) Create a Mitigation Design Tool to guide landscape-level siting of mines and biodiversity offsets to support implementation of Mongolian EIA law and the mitigation hierarchy (see MDT Web Pages);
2) Build capacity of MEGDT and the research community to map and analyze wildlife movement and habitat connectivity with a case study in connectivity modeling and a national GIS database (for access click here);
3) Assess alternatives and logistical constraints of regional traffic;
4) Provide training in a) using the Mitigation Design Tool, b) performing connectivity analyses, and c) assessing regional soil conditions in the mineralized zones of the Gobi Desert.

 The links above provide access to the final report related to this project with more detailed information provide in each appendix.  For more information on any of these activities contact Gala Davaa.

Final Report

Cover Page

Annex A: Inception Workshop Report

Annex B: Mitigation Design Tool Report

Annex C: GIS Protocols and Procedures

Annex D: Connectivity Report

Annex E: Transportation Considerations

Annex F: Stakeholder Engagement Report

Annex G: Mitigation Design Tool Training 1

Annex H: Mitigation Design Tool Training 2

Annex I: Connectivity Training Report

Annex J: Soil Reclamation Training Report Appendices

Annex K: Equipment Provided

Annex L: Final Workshop Agenda & Participants