For Mongolians, the word “rangeland” (belcheer) also means “homeland” (nutag). Rangelands are not only a source of feed for livestock but also a symbol of the value that herders and locals attach to their homeland.
However, the health of Mongolian rangelands is at a crossroads. About 57 per cent of them degraded, and of these, 13 per cent have “passed the threshold of recovery”, said Enkh-Amgalan Tseelei, an expert on community-centered sustainable rangeland management in Mongolia, at last month’s United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya.
Mongolian rangelands are one of the few natural grasslands left on Earth. “If nothing is done now,” she says, “we face the danger of losing this beautiful land, threatening the livelihoods of thousands of nomadic herder families.”
Mongolia, the country with the world’s biggest rangelands, has been at the forefront in making the case for an International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralism.
Tserenbat Namsrai, Minister of Environment and Tourism of Mongolia, stressed the importance of community-based sustainable management and the role of pasture user groups, of which Mongolia has 1,450. A draft “Rangeland Law” to ensure legal entitlement of herder communities to their traditional rangelands and empower them as users and protectors of rangelands is due to go before the Mongolian parliament soon.
“Although rangelands have for a long time remained on the fringes of most global environmental processes and debates, there is now a strong impetus towards developing the knowledge that will be needed for their inclusion,” says UN Environment rangelands expert Abdelkader Bensada.
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For further information, please contact Abdelkader Bensada.