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Wild Green

Former Utne Reader senior editor Keith Goetzman on environmental issues from climate change to composting.

Mongolians Team Up to Preserve Huge, Grassy Commons

 by Keith Goetzman

Tags: commons, resources, livestock, desertification, Climate Change, Mongolia, pasture, overgrazing, environment, Solutions Journal, Keith Goetzman,

Mongolian pastureland

Mongolia has an outsized reputation for vast emptiness, but in fact there are plenty of creatures living there, including 2.7 million people and the 35 million horses, cattle, sheep, goats, and camels that they keep. All those pasturing animals leave a large ecological hoofprint, reports Ronnie Vernooy in Solutions Journal, and climate change is disrupting the weather patterns that sustain the country’s many nomadic herders.

A new program, though, is pointing the way toward a more sustainable future, using the concept of the commons as a way to share resources—in this case, those seemingly endless pasturelands. Writes Vernooy:

The Mongolians herders’ tactics include reducing herd size to prevent pasture degradation and desertification caused by overgrazing; moving camps at different times to adapt to weather shifts; diversifying their income; and growing their own potatoes and vegetables. Comanagement pilot projects have been launched in several areas of the country with promising results, and boosters hope the practices may be adapted to neighboring Central Asian countries including Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. And, Vernooy suggests, “China could learn a lesson or two.”

Source: Solutions Journal 

Image by MAZZALIARMADI.IT, licensed under Creative Commons.