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Mongolian Gobi Special protected area inspection data entered into an electronic system

The Gobi Strictly Protected Small Area has entered all of its information into the database of the SMART program, reports the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. The unified database allows the rangers to conduct inspections and monitoring twice a month, alongside simplifying the process of evaluating their work and improving the knowledge and skills of specialists.

The SMART system has been implemented since 2017 by the Gobi Strictly Protected Small Area administration with an aim to bring the specially protected area inspections to a new level and ensure the implementation of the corresponding law. In the first half of this year, 19 rangers have conducted 243 patrols and inspections, covering a total distance of 56,737 km.

The Mongolian Gobi has a variety of habitats with strange-looking cliffs, sand dunes, dried lakes, wide wadi, and an oasis with streams. It is home to globally endangered Long-eared jerboa, regionally threatened Goitered gazelle, ibex, and argali.

The area has patch forests of saxaul, tamarax, elm, and Populus. Patch forests play an important role for the migration birds. Solitarily grown elm trees also play an important role for wild animals and livestock to shade. Many insects and birds are attracted to nest and roost, small mammals are attracted by the soft soil and moisture around the roots, and wild and domestic animals find shade under the trees. They also seem to play an important role in creating heterogeneity of desert vegetation.

The climate is extremely arid with less than 150 mm of precipitation per year. It is usual to experience frequent drought and in spring it has continuous sand storms. Local nomadic herders lived there many hundred years and they love their homeland and wildlife. Herders make their main income from cashmere and camel wool. Nomadic herders are sparsely distributed over the protected area and its buffer zone. One herder family’s camp can be encountered in 10 to 50 km.

Herder worries about the negative impacts of environmentally irresponsible mining activities because it will pollute the soil and water sources they depend on. ZSL’s Steppe Forward Programme is working with local herders and encouraging them to initiate conservation activities. Two herder groups are conducting conservation research with the National University of Mongolia’s students who work for SFP.

source UB info

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