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PROJECT: Climate compatible development in drylands systems of Mongolia and surrounding Asian systems

Project Reference: RSGL-0018d

Traditional pastoral networks evolve in order to cope with climatic risks and the variability of ecosystem services, such as forage and water availability, and to maintain habitat diversity. Large landscapes are vital in arid lands to offset climate variability and reduce vulnerability to extreme events such as very severe winters (known in Mongolia as a zud) and droughts. Multiple stresses to the socio-ecological system of Mongolian pastoralism has increased vulnerability, reduced adaptive capacity and decreased the resilience of the socio-ecological system to climate variability at multiple scales. Climate change is increasingly acting as an additional stress; worsening water shortages, drought stricken rangeland, and depleted livestock are hampering the livelihoods of the region’s people. The Mongolian National Action Programme on Climate Change (NAPCC) set goals to integrate climate change concerns with other national and sectoral development plans.

To increase resilience, there is a need for greater connection between local action and national and international policy and governance structures, along with strengthened and diversified livelihood strategies.

This research project developed and evaluated a framework for climate-compatible, sustainable development strategies which bridge local and national institutions, and integrate across multiple scales of social-ecological processes. Research has assessed vulnerability, adaptive capacity and resilience in the social-ecological system to deal with climate change, as well as multi-scale decision making approaches. The geographical focus is the pastoral regions of Mongolia, including the desert steppe, grassland steppe and forest step ecosystems. Comparative studies were also undertaken in China.

Through this research, the team has identified the sources of, as well as the gaps in, information and assistance received by herders. The project has identified specific needs which, when addressed, enhance herders’ ability to continue pursuing their pastoral livelihoods. The team aimed to understand how resilience concepts can be incorporated into climate response strategies in the dryland systems of the Asian steppe and adaptation strategies which are appropriate for pastoral systems in the region. The results led to a framework that enables the co-management of natural resources in support of sustainable pastoral systems in the region, in light of climate change and other socio-economic factors.

Recent update:

The research team has now completed the fieldwork and is in the process of analysis. The project will produce briefs and academic articles detailing the results at a later date.

Lead: Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University; Dr. Dennis Ojima

Partners: Togtokh Chuluun and Bolormaa Tsogtsaikhan, National University of Mongolia; Tsesediin Banzragc, Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism, Mongolia; Mark Stafford Smith, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia.

CDKN funding: £200,000

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock/Chiakto

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