Biodiversity conservation in protected areas

Project description

Title: Supporting Protected Areas for the Conservation of Ecosystem Services – SPACES
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Mongolia
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Environment and Tourism
Overall term: 2019 to 2022

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Context

Mongolia’s diverse landscapes provide habitats for a large number of plant and animal species. This biodiversity forms the basis of Mongolia’s economy, culture and development. To conserve biodiversity, the government has established national and local protected areas on almost 30 per cent of the country’s area. However, climate change and the exploitation of natural resources are threatening the biodiversity and ecosystems of this extensive system of protected areas.

A large section of the rural population lives in buffer zones surrounding protected areas. If these zones are damaged, rural livelihoods are also affected. The systems of protected areas themselves have so far been unable to fully prevent environmental damage because they do not have sufficient funds. In addition, the authorities responsible for protected area management lack specialist and technical skills as well as human resources.

Objective

The framework conditions for the long-term development of protected areas in Mongolia are improved.

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Approach

The project boosts the financial capacity of the authorities in charge of managing protected areas, enabling them to make their own decisions. For example, it advises the Ministry of Environment and Tourism on drafting regulations to enable these bodies to generate an income of their own. They can then organise how they are run with greater financial independence and reinvest income in the protected areas.

The project also improves coordination between actors within selected nature conservation areas. It advocates more coordinated action on the part of the government authorities involved and interest groups to better utilise the potential of all parties. A further objective is to preserve vast areas of natural landscape and be more effective in protecting the migration routes of endangered species.

The project develops eco-friendly tourism in the protected areas and provides advice on natural resource management in and around the areas. It also ensures that interest groups are aware of the protected area concept by devising an environmental communication strategy for the protected area system and implementing selected elements of the strategy. Measures such as social media campaigns and entertaining educational projects are planned to help visitors, local people and experts be better informed.

Rural poverty is one of the reasons why the natural resources (pastures, forests, wild animals) in protected areas and buffer zones are overexploited. The rural population living in or between protected areas and the buffer zones is therefore the target group. Alternatives to exploiting the protected areas are developed and implemented. The professional and management staff of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism also receive policy advice and support in developing their skills. In particular, the project advises staff members in the division for protected area management and in local bodies administering protected areas. These also include staff members of bodies managing protected areas and buffer zones as well as other participating institutions and organisations, including buffer zone committees, non-governmental organisations and tourism companies.

With all these measures, the project creates the prerequisites for environmentally responsible protected area management in villages, regions and beyond, with the aim of conserving biodiversity and safeguarding livelihoods.

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