Better managed natural resources expand livelihoodsNaranbek Ristan slings his binoculars and notebook around his neck and mounts his horse with graceful ease. He is setting off on a monthly patrol of 6,000 hectares of community land to check on wildlife. The country he will cover is harsh, magnificent and daunting. But for Ristan, most importantly, it is home. Ristan comes from the Kazakh ethnic group and lives in the community of Akhbastau (literally “White Springs”) in the Altai Mountains of Mongolia’s extreme west. People here are herders and horsemen living in gers (yurts) decorated with colourful floor and wall carpets.
Herders’ communal work revives degraded pasturelandThis summer, herder communities involved in UNDP’s “Sustainable Land Management for Combating Desertification” project harvested high yields of hay, which was the result of several years of effort to improve the soil condition in their localities, representing arid and semi-arid regions. With funding from the Netherlands and Switzerland Governments and UNDP, the Sustainable Land Management (SLM) project started in 2008 and operates in 13 soums (districts) of four provinces representating different ecological zones of Mongolia. It aims to introduce and promote sustainable land management practices, adjusted to local soil and climatic conditions and livelihoods. Herder communities involved in the project have fenced new hayfields to prevent livestock movement and obtained abundant harvest by improving irrigation and applying organic fertilizers.