By integrating herder traditions and livelihoods with water conservation, sustainable economic and infrastructure development, and biodiversity conservation, this program can play an active role in the long-term health of the people and species that live within the Eastern Steppe.
ARLINGTON, VA (Vocus) October 23, 2007
Today, The Nature Conservancy announced the launch of a new conservation initiative to protect the globally significant grasslands of the Eastern Steppe of Mongolia. The Conservancy will share its conservation and scientific expertise to help the government of Mongolia balance conservation and economic needs.
“This program will help Mongolia to set a new standard for sustainable development,” said Stephanie Meeks, acting president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy. “This unique effort will encompass policy initiatives with on-the-ground conservation techniques to protect more than 69 million acres of grasslands in Eastern Mongolia.”
Grasslands are among the most threatened habitat types on Earth—50 percent of these landscapes have been lost to agriculture use, urbanization and fire suppression. Around the world, grasslands have supported human life for countless generations. From the rolling prairies of North America to the sun struck savannas of Africa, grasslands provide an array of services that make our lives possible, including food, pharmaceuticals, economic opportunities, protection of freshwater resources as well as habitat for multitudes of plants and animals. Yet despite these threats, grasslands are the least protected of all terrestrial major habitat types on the planet.
Mongolia, home to vibrant and celebrated nomadic cultures that coexist with an astonishing array of wildlife, contains the largest unconverted temperate grasslands remaining in the world. Visitors may come across steppe eagles, cranes, wolves and Mongolian gazelles. The Mongolian gazelle, a nomadic species that follows no fixed migratory route, needs an extremely large landscape to survive – but the once isolated, unpopulated Eastern Steppe in Mongolia is facing unprecedented development pressures as the country seeks to expand its economy and connect to the East Asian markets.
According to Mongolian President Nambaryn Enkhbayar, conservation is an essential part of the government’s agenda, but the challenge is to reconcile economic needs with the protection of the country’s unique natural treasures. Working with the government of Mongolia and many diverse partners, the Conservancy’s new conservation initiative will work to address these issues by incorporating conservation of vast areas of grasslands with sustainable development and policy initiatives.
“The Mongolia program’s pragmatic approach to conservation will directly benefit the people of Mongolia,” added Meeks. “By integrating herder traditions and livelihoods with water conservation, sustainable economic and infrastructure development, and biodiversity conservation, this program can play an active role in the long-term health of the people and species that live within the Eastern Steppe.”
The program will also help local communities to establish and manage conservation areas, develop a model of coordinated grassland, wildlife and wetland management with neighboring provinces, and facilitate a national environmental forum to unite business, religious, governmental and conservation leaders around in a common environmental agenda.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 15 million acres in the United States and have helped preserve more than 102 million acres in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at http://www.nature.org.