In Mongolia,  a very steep climatic gradient exists, from taiga cold forest in the northernmost are to hyper-arid desert in the southernmost area. It provides various valuable study sites for rangeland ecology and management. Figure 1 shows the typical ecological types including grassland in Mongolia.
Around 40 % of Mongolian population depends on animal production, which again relies upon plant resources. Therefore, establishment of sustainable rangeland management is essential for Mongolian people’s well-being. Historically Mongolian herders practicized traditional sustainable rangeland use. However, recent drastic change of surrounding environment, political regime change, population growth, global economy, and resulting desertification or land degradation in particular, is threatening traditional rangeland use which was optimized to the past situation.

Most of Mongolian herders practisezed nomadic pastoralism. They live in the portable tent named ger (Figure 2), which can be assembled or disassembled only with a few hours. Pasture use system varies with the climatic gradient. In humid area, land is customary owned and herders moves a few km seasonally. On the contrary, in arid area, land tenure is almost open and they move sometimes more than 100 km to seek pasture where it rained.

Figure 1. Various ecosystem types in Mongolia. (a) Forest steppe, (b) typical steppe and (c) semi-desert steppe.

Figure 2. Mongolian ger.

We have three core sites in Mongolia along climatic gradient (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Locations of core sites

1. Khustai National Park

This site contains Khustai National Park and surrounding area. Annual average rainfall is around 250 mm. Ecosystem is a mixture of steppe and forest steppe, where forest exists near the top of hills. This site is in typical desertified area, near to main loads to the capital city Ulanbator, where herders concentrates for the convenience of market, education and medical facilities. On the contrary, grazing is prohibited in the Khustai National Park, so there exists steep gradient of grazing intensities and resulting desertification or land degradation. Khustai National Park is also a good study site for wildlife, as wild horse Tahi represents (Figure 4).

2. Mandalgovi

Mandalgovi city is located at the boundary of steppe and desert-steppe. Annual rainfall is around 170 mm, but recently it rapidly decreases. Drought impact is significant in this region where there are no high mountains for stable water supply. Moreover, herders concentrate around Mandalgovi city, the capital city of Dundgovi prefecture. Together with the drought impact, herders can presently not practice the traditional seasonal pasture use. This especially threaten the livestock survival in harsh winter, as well as the sustainability of rangeland ecosystem.

3. Bulgan

Our core site in Bulgan soum is located at the foot of Gobi-Altai Mountains. Annual average ranfall is 120 mm, which classified arid area. This area is located in the series of sandy land (Figure 5), which is one of the primary source of Asian dust which sometimes damage downward area including Japan. Countermeasures for Asian dust source is now one of the major research topic. There exist climatic gradient from the foot to the top of mountains. Herders utilized such mixed climatic area. Such pasture use across climatic area is now one of the important research topics for rangeland management.

Figure 4. Wild horse Tahi.

Figure 5. Sand mobilization

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