East Asia

South East Asia Blog
“In Mongolia, using new science to preserve traditional lifestyles'
Henry Wilkins
This article talks about the decline in health of Mongolia’s steppe and grasslands, due to
overgrazing and other climate concerns. In Mongolia, the steppe is inhabited by nomadic
herders, raising livestock like goats and yak. Goats are especially damaging to the grasslands
as they eat the roots of the grass as well. Science and determination are starting to show
promise though as different groups around the world work on solving this issue. Wilkins talks
about the rise in urbanization of these nomadic herders, due to the lack of sustainability within
the grasslands currently, with masses of Mongolians moving to Ulaanbaatar and living around
the outskirts in their “gers'. These “ger districts' lack sanitary conditions, room in schools, and
basic utilities. This rise in urbanization is not only an issue for these new city residents, but for
the Mongolian government, as coal pollution rises, and the ger districts conditions get worse.
There is hope though as Wilkins writres, “With some help from schemes supported by the UN
Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), The Swiss Development Agency and the Global
Agenda for Sustainable Livestock, groups of herders are attempting to show how proper
management of the grassland can stop the degradation.' He also highlights other things like a
businessman who only buys yak for cashmere since they are less harmful to the grasslands
than goats. Proper grazing and livestock management could help the steppe recover in around
ten years as one group predicts, but the scene is still unfolding as more are still moving to the
city, and nomadic herders gain the same modern technology we all have.