Mongolian forestry in a changing environment

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1. Background

Mongolia has about 18.6 million ha of forestlands occupying 11.8% of the country’s total land area. Of these, 11,968 ha are fire-prone areas, 1,241 ha are logged-over lands, 9,570 ha are pest-affected areas. Only 12.4 million ha, or 7.85% of the country’s territory, is actually covered by forests. Afforestated areas and naturally regenerated forested areas account for 2,305 ha, which shows the need to formulate and implement a new policy to reduce the degradation and loss of forest resources and restore and conserve forests.

Boreal Forests in the Northern Mongolia (Source: REDD+ Program, Ministry of Environment and Tourism of Mongolia)

All forest resources in Mongolia are state property. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism of Mongolia provides oversight supervision in terms of overall forest development and conservation, while aimag[1] and soum[2] administrations are responsible for forest management at the local level. Mongolian forest can be divided into two broad types of northern boreal forests and southern saxaul forests. Northern boreal forests, which form an ecological transition zone between the Siberian Taiga and the Central Asian Steppes, account for about 85% of the national forest estate across fourteen aimags. Southern saxual forests are found in the southern Gobi Desert and desert steppe regions. Although they consist of scattered trees and are limited in growth and biomass, southern saxaul forests play an important role in stabilizing arid zone land and reducing desertification.

[1] First-level administrative division (province) in Mongolia. There are 21 aimags.
[2] Second-level administrative division (district) in Mongolia. There are 331 soums.
2. Forest laws, policies, and national action plans in Mongolia

In the Mongolian forestry sector, the following laws, policies, national programs, and action plans are in force as of July 2021:

No.YearsForest-related laws
11995Environmental Protection Law of Mongolia
22009Law to Prohibit Mineral Exploration and Mining Operations at Headwaters of Rivers, Protected Zones of Water Reservoirs and Forested Areas
32015Law on Forest