Innovative 3-level community conservation model successfully tested.

The project has successfully piloted 3-layer community conservation model in which local citizens/herders are held responsible for the sustainable use of not only pastureland but also biodiversity on it by signing formal contracts with the soum governor. The first in Mongolia methodology for introducing financial offsets in case of pastureland was successfully developed and supported by local stakeholders.

Project’s local protected area
The project approach and principles tested

What is community conservation based on local citizens (groups, partnerships)?
“Authorizing local citizens, groups & partnerships to be responsible for the management of protected lands through formal/informal contracts, procedures or institutions. (IUCN, Governance of Protected Areas, 2013)

Article 6.2 in the Constitution of Mongolia:
All land, land resources, forests, water sources & wildlife are deemed state property and thus, are under state ownership with the exception of land owned by Mongolian citizens.

Conclusion: The state (The Soum Governor), as the owner, has authority to issue and monitor the contract by which citizens, groups & partnerships practice the proper use management of natural resources (including protection)

Principles upheld in developing the management model of local protected lands based on local citizens (groups, partnerships)

  • The user is the protector principle needs to be integrated into the creation of herders’ sustainable livelihood and the proper use/restoration of natural resources in that land.
  • Establish a formal structure by which local conservation can be implemented so that the capacity of conservation officials is strengthened and any overlapping duties are eliminated (The structure & mechanism that may be needed to encourage the participation & decision-making of local citizens through the consultation & recommendations.)
  • Restore wildlife habitats through the proper use of pasture (overgrazing is a major factor that destroys wildlife habitats)
  • Ensure operational sustainability
  • Use a new & tested approach of economic incentives to encourage the proper use of natural resources
  • Employ an adaptive learning approach to constantly assess and improve operations

The need to integrate with the creation of herders’ sustainable livelihood

  • The absence of accountability mechanisms for irresponsible actions such as overuse of pasture, water source & saltlicks and causing pasture degradation
  • The absence of leverage & incentives to encourage the adjustment of herd size to pasture carrying capacity. Because of this, herders are only interested in maximizing animal numbers in an effort to increase income. This leads to:
  • The destruction of biodiversity & wildlife
  • The loss of our ability to pass on the beautiful natural environment to upcoming generations
  • The rejection of green development principles.

What has been done?

Change herders’ behavior from the animal number maximization to quality improvements thus to create environment conducive to wildlife conservation:

  • Introduce contractual use (leasing) of pastureland and make herders/users formally responsible for regulating stocking density (discourage quantity-oriented behavior)
  • Introduce grazing fee system as an economic tool to enforce stocking densities
  • Introduce, in accordance with the environmental legislation, contracts for sustainable use of wildlife, forest and other resources , with herder groups that have leased pastureland
  • Stimulate quality-oriented behavior among local communities/herders by implementing small income diversification projects based on the performance of pastureland use agreements and wildlife/forest possession contracts (short-term efforts 1-2 years)
  • Use additional economic incentives to encourage herders towards adopting quality improvements such as piloting differentiated pricing in collaboration with processors/buyers based on cashmere micron and content of milk bacteria, project funding in the pilot phase to be taken over by government support and private sector in the medium and long-term)

How was implemented?

  • Select pilot communities using certain criteria (Key indicator- high willingness to use pasture, wildlife on it in a sustainable manner)
  • Organize extensive education and capacity building campaign among local governments and citizens/communities on the benefits and ways they can participate in and benefit from the proposed package
  • Demonstrate the feasibility of the project by piloting the entire package in case of 2 communities selected in each project soum
  • Use the pilot as demonstration sites for building support and replication
  • Use the pilot experiences results to promote desired changes in legal/regulatory framework for ensuring long-term sustainability of the tested model
  • Potential sources of funding for sustainable use of natural resources
  • Employ opportunities of the new Integrated Budget Law that earmarked local development fund for financing pastureland management
  • Use the results of the proxy-grazing fee model piloted by CPR under the WB-supported Sustainable livelihoods Project-II (SLP-II) in which herders voluntarily pay contributions to the soum livestock risk management fund and access the fund resources to mitigate livestock risks
  • Commence consultations with mining companies active in project soum territories on launching biodiversity financial offsets
  • Commence efforts to pilot carbon sequestration on pastureland to access international carbon markets (Improved pastureland management can result in 2.16 ton carbon sequestration per ha, 1 ton is priced around 2-10 USD. One herder household in Mongolia uses around 600 ha of pastureland annually which would mean that 2600-13000 USD can be potentially earned by improving pastureland management)

Map of one of the project beneficiary communities in the Dornod aimag