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National Conference ‘PASTURELAND LEGISLATION: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES’ 14-15 December 2004 Ulaanbaatar PowerPoint Presentation
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National Conference ‘PASTURELAND LEGISLATION: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES’ 14-15 December 2004 Ulaanbaatar The need and solutions to improved pastureland management in Mongolia By Center for Policy Research. Keystone of pastoralism in Mongolia was:

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National Conference ‘PASTURELAND LEGISLATION: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES’ 14-15 December 2004 Ulaanbaatar

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National Conference


14-15 December 2004


The need and solutions to improved pastureland management in Mongolia

By Center for Policy Research


Keystone of pastoralism in Mongolia was:

Availability and rotational use of seasonal pastures and reserve areas for emergencies. For centuries this ensured ecological sustainability and saved animals during natural disasters.

Availability and rotational use of seasonal pastures and reserve areas for emergencies was ‘regulated’ by customary rules in the pre-socialist period.

In the socialist period administrative commands and plans dominated to play a key role in regulating the use of pastures and customary rules were depressed.


For the past 10 years socialist-type administrative mechanisms disappeared and slowly recovering customary rules were shown largely unable to play a regulatory role. There are many factors that contributed to this to happen. These are among others:

    • Increased animal pressures on pastures made customary regulations difficult to function properly
      • Decline in utilized pastures due to decreased number of engineering wells and concentration of herders nearby urban areas for accessing markets and reduced services contributed further to localized overstocking
      • For the 10 years since the beginning of transition in 1990 the number of herders families increased from around 90 thousand to around 190 thousand tremendously increasing the demand for camp sites and decreasing the availability of reserve pastures
    • Sharp economic declines in urban areas led to tremendous increase of new herders with little knowledge and experiences of traditional rules and practices.

Institutions that should regulate the use of pastures in the new conditions of market economy do not work properly especially at local levels. The key reasons are:

·        There is no proper mechanisms to make sure that herders participate and are interested in conservation of pastures

·        Land management is regarded as secondary priority and it does not get required funds

·        Despite quite well defined legal duties local government officials do not properly perform their land management functions largely due to general governance problems such as lack of motivation and accountability. There are also some physical constraints such as too big size of bags relative resources of bag governors

Absence of adequate technical and equipment capacity of local land offices


Overall problem:

Inadequate functioning of regulatory rules erodes the keystone of Mongolian pastoralism leading to ecological non-sustainability and increased animal losses of dzuds and droughts.

Evidences for bull-points above:


Herders level:

·        There were many cases of hoof dzud, during disasters herders migrated to areas already occupied and animals of both in-migrated and recipient herders die in masses due to lack of forage.

·        Herders do not migrate longer distances because other herders trespass while they are away

·        Number and distance of seasonal migrations decreased. Staying in one place, i.e., using the same pastures all year around is becoming increasingly commonplace

Herders are unaware of the land legislation


Some herders use our winter and spring pasture when we moved to summer and autumn camps. This is rather an illegal action to great extent. On the other hand, we have to recognize that this raises need for the others, whose pasture condition is rather poor around their camps, and they do not have an alternative except trespassing to other pastures. P. Urtnasan, “Bumba Erdene” Group leader, Sant sum, Uvurkhangai, aimag

My family can’t make any seasonal movements to change seasonal camps because I have no transportation either mechanized or working animals. My family is counted as chronically poor with far less livestock, D.Sharav, herder, Sant sum, Uvurkhangai aimag

I have built my winter-spring camp at territory of Ulziit sum, because no campsite is available in my home sum – Sant, Ch.Dashpuntsag, herder, Sant sum, Uvurkhangai aimag


Bag level:

·        At best Governors make herders orally agree on scheduling of seasonal migrations in the meeting of Bag members once per year but the decision is not followed by herders and not monitored by governors. The reason is clear and simple. Bag is administrative unit but not NRM unit. The division of the bag membership is based on winter camping and it is very rare that a bag has four seasonal pastures in 'own territory', usually members of different bags inter-migrate to each other’s territory. It makes the bag level decision very difficult to enforce and monitor. Furthermore, a bag is too big to be NRM unit.

·        Bag governors’ involvement in pastureland management is very limited and bag governors are not trained and have no resources to carry out their duties

·        Bag governors’ knowledge about the land legislation is

In my sum, disputes on pastureland occur as the result of poor water availability or in droughts. Practically no sum and bag mediation/participation takes place, and herders usually come to compromise and solve the issues by themselves, B.Munkhsaikhan, herder, Sant sum, Uvurkhangai aimag

Although the bag Khural of Citizens and bag governor takes decisions on matters related to pasture, we totally fail to make minutes of the meetings and issue official order/protocol to document what has been debated and decision made, Bag Governor, Sant sum, Uvurkhangai


Sum level:

·        Sum land management plans are not developed in many cases and pastureland management issues are not reflected. In many cases land officers do not know how to ensure funding for developing plans.

·        Out of around 330 sums only around 60 have professional land officers. In most sums environmental officers perform the duties of land officers, but they concentrate more on environmental duties and land management is often neglected. In Bayanhongor and Uvurhangai sums.

Sums do not have adequate resources, maps and other information to develop and implement land use plans


Aimag level:

·        Pastureland management is regarded as low priority activity. Both governors’ offices and Hurals tend to neglect the funding for pastureland management activities.

·        General aimag land management plan has not been developed during the entire transition period. In fact, sum land management plans are supposed to be developed in accordance with the aimag general land management plan.

·        Activities of land offices are largely limited to urban land management in the aimag center.

Animal land offices lack technical and equipment capacities to perform their land management functions


Solution to the problem:

  • Recover and maintain the keystone - ensure availability and rotational use of seasonal and reserve pastures
  • How?
  • It needs to focus on institutional issues, namely:
    • Introduce mechanism/tool to make sure that herders participate and are interested in conservation of pastures (involving water)
    • Make local government bodies perform properly their land management functions
  • Efforts in other directions are also important:
  • ·        Well programs
  • ·        Rodent and insect control
  • ·        Others

Administrative commands/plans do not work.

    • Crucial is to find a tool capable of making, in current conditions, both herders and local government officials motivated in sustainable use of pastures (co-management). The tool is a contract between recognized herders' group and the sum Governor.
    • Contract means formally recognizing both rights and responsibilities of both parties. Herders will be more certain that they will be rewarded for extra efforts to protect pastures against increasing anarchy use.
  • Contractual arrangements for grazing land management should aim to recover and strengthen the informal arrangements of using seasonal and reserve pastures and take account of regional distinctions and the need for reciprocal grazing rights between community groups in case of natural disasters.

Who should establish a contract with Sum Governor?

Should be flexible depending on type of resources and regional differences in traditions and land use patterns. General suggestions:

·        Small-scale resources such as winter, spring camps, fenced areas of pastures and

hayfields and small-capacity wells to individual households or khot ails

·        Big-scale resources such as seasonal pastures and high capacity wells to herders


Specific scarce resources such as saltlicks need to be ‘open’ to all who heed an access to them, however, specific maintenance arrangements are needed to ensure sustainability


Herders group

Herders group is a neighborhood group of herders households who camp together at least one season and have common interest and cooperation on the use of pastures /inclusive water and other resources/. Given the too big size of bags herders groups need to be formally recognized as a basic NRM unit.


Implementation arrangements:

·Legal environment to allow long-term possession/use contacts

Capacity building for local governments and herders

Recommendations for creating favorable legal environment to allow long-term

possession/use contacts are circulated in advance and shall be discussed in detail later.

  • Capacity building for local governments:
    • Improve the technical capacity (professional land managers, knowledge and skills of relevant staff on land law and other required fields)
    • Improve the equipment/tools of local land management offices (equipment for mapping and land information systems, GIS)
    • Identify and map memberships and boundaries of herders groups
    • Identify and map appropriate seasonal pastures as well as otor reserve pastures at sum, aimag and regional levels. The current animal numbers of around 25 m provides a good opportunity for each aimag and sum to establish own otor reserve pastures
    • Specify roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders in the use of seasonal and otor reserve pastures and enforce them through contractual arrangements
  • Resolve long-standing funding problem with local land management offices to ensure sustainability of project initiated efforts

Financial problem with local land management offices:

MNT50-60 million is taxed from land users to Aimag Tax Revenue. If 70% of this amount of money spent on land related countermeasures, we will able to develop and implement Land Management Plan of Aimag, Ts. Tserennyam, Head of Land Authority in Uvurkhangai aimag


Group versus individual possession of engineering well:

I have a contract with sum governor to possess an engineering well for two years. Now, I feel difficulties in maintenance, because herders do not provide any inputs, except rare support with a little amount of diesel. Although, I could find many reasons to cancel the contract, but I do know that people and livestock around the well depend on only that water source, Togooch, a well operator, Bogd sum, Bayankhongor aimag

In reality, we have very limited access to the well, which is possessed by Togooch. He always afraid of losing and damaging the engine, pumps and other parts of equipment. When he moves somewhere, he does not let the others use the well, he locks up and takes the pump and engine to the sum center. In our opinion, this herder group members should respond that well equally. Well possessed for a long-term to only one person never works, Bayaraa, Regzeedorj and Batjargal, herders using the same well

Our herder group decided to use an engineering well. Our group members’ 4 seasonal camps are placed far away from my camp site, so they are not able to pay 30% or MNT 1200000 of well investment cost. The well is used by only my family and my son in law family, so only two households will pay above mentioned amount of money. We look after the well equipment at the moment, and we happy to water animals of other herders with particular fee. A herder, Uvurhangai aimag


Jeremy Swift, Robin Mearns, Maria E. Fernandez-Gimenez, David Sneath, S. Doempke and others

Many comments were supportive. Below are key critical points:

Lack of any mention of monitoring pastureland conditions or building capacity for monitoring

Only scientifically defensible way to assess appropriate carrying capacities for pastureland given Mongolia’s variable environmental conditions is to assess actual pasture conditions, adjust management accordingly

It is interesting to know if pasture possession contracts will specify a “permitted number” of livestock, and if so, how this number will be established

In pasture management there is a need for a long-term approach to managing grazing and improving pasture conditions.

Whether recommendations will have the desired effects will depend on the way in which they are implemented

It is likely to be beneficial if introduced as part of a well-planned and centrally co-ordinated sum land management system

Herders group memberships are loose so, can a group hold agreement with sum Governor

There should be evaluation of the probable impact of the grazing fees on overall herder household income, especially the poorer households. There should be some appropriate decrease in income tax for those who would not be able to afford to pay

Capacities of wells should not be determined by herders

Who and how will decide if there are many competing users (herders, tourist camps etc) of one well