Conservation through Co-Existence

Desert steppe grassland ecosystems protect globally important biodiversity, play a critical role in mitigation and adaptation to climate change, and directly support the livelihoods of many human communities. However, they are one of the most threatened ecosystems on Earth due to the ease of conversion for human agricultural use. This is especially true in Mongolia, where nearly 70% of grasslands are degraded because of increased drought, expansion of mining, and overgrazing. This is threatening the ecosystem’s unique biodiversity and its role in the cultural heritage, livelihoods, and wellbeing of nomadic herding communities.

The Living Desert has established a new partnership with Mongolian Conservation Initiative (MCI) to implement holistic conservation in the Gobi Desert steppe ecosystem of southeastern Mongolia to ensure both nature and humans thrive. This is a unique opportunity for The Living Desert to partner with a long-established, globally recognized conservation success story, and to help expand it by more pointedly addressing the threats to biodiversity and human wellbeing. The partnership’s combined holistic approach to conservation will amplify and extend the work of MCI, headed by long-time leader Gana Wingard, to implement public outreach, and community- based conservation work in Ikh Nart Nature Reserve, Mongolia. Within this mutually beneficial partnership, The Living Desert team brings global conservation expertise in ecosystem restoration, biodiversity research, curriculum creation, public outreach, and community-led conservation.

Moving seasonally across the landscape in search of pasture for their livestock herds, nomadic herder communities within Ikh Nart have served as stewards of these important ecosystems and wildlife for centuries and continue to play an integral role today. The Living Desert’s Conservation Department will work directly with and fund Ikh Nart herder communities, researchers, reserve managers, and school leadership in their priority communities to take action to conserve wildlife locally. The Living Desert team will also assist with ecological restoration components and with assessment and prevention of livestock-wildlife disease transmission in Ikh Nart. To build a capacity of Ikh Nart reserve managers, the teams will work with experts in California protected areas to provide specialized training for Mongolians coming to Palm Desert through the partnership.

Ikh Nart Nature Reserve

Located on the northern edge of the Mongolian Gobi Desert, Ikh Nart Nature Reserve encompasses 160,000 acres of critical grassland steppe and desert ecosystems. Within this space, the Reserve protects an essential pasture for 150 nomadic herding families as well as many native animals, including:
  • 40 mammal species
  • 200 bird species
  • 7 reptile species
Bighorn Sheep
This new, innovative partnership will not only result in the successful conservation of wildlife, ecosystems, and herder livelihoods in Mongolia, but will serve as a model for how international partnerships can amplify community-led and holistic conservation initiatives world-wide.

Your support is instrumental in fostering the groundbreaking partnership between The Living Desert and the Mongolian Conservation Initiative, aimed at conserving the unique biodiversity of the Gobi Desert steppe and supporting the traditional lifestyles of nomadic herders. Donate now to make a difference.

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