Strengthening the protected area network in Mongolia (SPAN)


Located at the crossroads of the Central Asian Steppes, the Siberian Tundra and the Gobi Desert, Mongolia hosts a range of globally important biodiversity. Unfortunately, the country’s biodiversity is also under significant pressure - especially from the region’s economic growth, hunting, logging, land degradation, and increasingly mining and climate change. The protected areas (PAs) of Mongolia have been significantly expanded, with numbers reaching almost 100, totalling over 27M ha, or almost 18% of the country’s surface (Table 1 and Figure 1), excluding the Local Protected Areas. However, capacities and resources for protected area (PA) management have not kept pace with the expansion of PAs, resulting in a situation where most PAs in Mongolia suffer from inadequate resources to conserve important species and habitats they are supposed to protect.

The current budgets of PA administrations are totally insufficient for adequate PA conservation.  As the current PA financing amounts are increased at least by 2.3 %, the PA administrations will be provided with the opportunity to normally run their conservation actions within the PAs as projected.  This project will enhance effective management and sustainable financing of the protected area system in Mongolia as a whole.


The objective of the project is to catalyze the management effectiveness and financial sustainability of Mongolia’s protected areas system. The annual revenues to the National PA system at project start were approximately US$2.5million. The project aims develop the management and financial capacity of MEGD and strengthen the partnerships between PA authorities and local communities, local government, NGOs and the private sector to achieve the long-term sustainability of PA financing to allow Mongolia to cover the financing gap. The estimated gap in funding requirements for the Mongolia PA system range from US$5 million to US$7.5 million.

Three outcomes will contribute to this objective:

(1) Strengthened National policy, legal and institutional frameworks for sustainable management and financing of the national PA system;

(2) Institutional and staff capacity and arrangements are in place to effectively manage and govern the national PA system; and

(3) Sustainable financing mechanisms and innovative collaboration approaches demonstrated at 2 PA demonstration sites, increasing funds and effective strategies for PA management. It is expected that the demonstration of sustainable financing at site levels will be replicated throughout the PA system and the project will have a long lasting impacts on sustainable conservation outcomes.

Additionally, the project will also contribute to better local livelihoods through increased resilience of ecosystems in PAs that underpin the livelihoods of several households living inside and around protected areas.

What are the project’s goals?

The main project goal is to catalyze the management effectiveness and financial sustainability of Mongolia’s Protected Area system. The three strands of the project aim to achieve this by:

  • revising the policy, legal and institutional frameworks for sustainable financing and co-management of PAs;
  • ensuring the institutional and staff capacities are in place to effectively manage and govern the national PA system;
  • the demonstration of sustainable financing and innovative collaboration approaches at 2 PA demonstration sites leads to better conservation.

What have we accomplished so far:

  • Regulation on payment of PA entry fees has been revised and submitted to MEGD and MOF for approval. Once approved, SPAN will assist all the PA Administrations to enhance collection of fees - with the potential to increase revenues substantially from this source.
  • A study conducted on PA financing options through concessions, for example for tourism, grazing, mining, hunting, growing/collecting of fruits is currently being let.
  • Held development and ministerial approval of best practice guidelines for PA Management Planning. It’s impacted in MEGD which has instructed all PAs to have management plans in place according to the new system by end 2013, and has allocated $70,000 to support this work.
  • Developed Business Planning guidelines which have again been drawn from international best practice. Application of the new Business Planning guidelines is being piloted at the two project demonstration sites.
  • Conducted a training needs analysis across the PA system, and used this to prepare an integrated training curriculum, which was submitted to PAAD for approval in May 2012. Significant training has also been provided to follow-up the development of the management and business planning guidelines with training delivered to 3 regions in 2012 and 33.5% of PA staff trained in this area by the end of 2012.
  • A major achievement of the project at both sites has been to bring all key stakeholders together around the development and implementation of the management and business plans through the establishment of Management Councils. They are already seen as an excellent mechanism for joint decision-making and action.
  • Being a Nature Reserve, and therefore not receiving management support or financing from the PAAD, the INNR had no PA Administration prior to the start of the project. However, a unique, tripartite agreement was recently signed between MEGD, the Aimag Governor and the ARC NGO that gives responsibility to the ARC to manage INNR. The PA Administration buildings, including a small information centre, are now being constructed with a $93,000 contribution from the Aimag Government, which also includes a contribution to the operational costs for the appointment of 3 local staff who will be trained by the SPAN project.
  • New revenue generation mechanisms are being piloted at both sites. A Trust Fund has been established for INNR. An EcoFund has also been established at OVNP and a joint-resolution released in 4 Soums on the collection of fees and generation of revenues from car parking, camping, haymaking, gathering medicinal herbs etc. which have so far generated $1500 in addition to entry fees.
  • The project has established Environmental Units in 3 soums at OVNP and at INNR, drawing together the Environmental inspectors and PA staff and community groups.

Major achievements at national level have been the engagement of sectoral ministries through the establishment of a National PA Forum and inter-agency working group on PA Sustainable Financing and the development of best practice guidelines on management planning and business planning for PAs. At local level, the project has changed the mind-set of local authorities and communities in favour of PAs, and secured their participation and engagement through innovative management councils and community groups.

Who finances it?



Amount contributed




GoM of Mongolia

US$ 164,329.18

US$ 294,446.04

US$ 100,000.00 (in kind)




GoM of Mongolia

US$ 251,022.98

US $ 114,962.11

US $ 100,000.00 (in kind)




GoM of Mongolia

US $ 24,282.26

US $ 22,157.26

US $ 25,000.00 (in kind)

Delivery in previous fiscal year


Total Delivery


US$ 51.00 %


US$ 98.00%


US$ 82.00%

UNDP Around the world

You are at UNDP Mongolia 
Go to UNDP Global