Mongolia is one of the most climate change affected countries in the world with observed temperature change three times higher than the global average.
Climate change places inordinate pressures on Mongolia’s forest ecosystems. It is likely to result in increased threat of forest fire due to drier conditions and forest pest outbreak. It may also affect forest ecology, such as fruiting and germination patterns, and growth with some areas benefiting from different rainfall and others decreasing.
Investments in Mongolia’s forest ecosystems is important and often overlooked component of a countries long term development goals. Mongolia’s unique forests provide and maintain valuable ecosystem services including watershed protection vital for Ulaanbaatar city in the River Tuul river, ecotourism services and landscape beauty in the amazing Khusvgul area, and non-timber forest products for local communities, including providing, important items such as firewood and pine nuts. These and other services contribute approximately 300 million USD annually towards Mongolia’s economy, thus it is a resource that is crucial for its contribution for Mongolia’s economy.
Communities bordering the forest areas are under pressure, with poor environmental management exacerbating problems for livelihoods already facing problems of climate change, including increased severity of winter cold periods, changes in rainfall and water resources and increased fire risk. Forest User Groups protect around 3.1 million hectares of forests in Mongolia and if we find mechanisms to improve opportunities for benefitting from the forests, through increased access to wood products and supporting small scale enterprises, it can be a useful tool for improving and diversifying incomes.
Investments and improved capacity building are thus essential needed to supporting forest user groups to improve their forest management and enable access to enhanced benefits. This should include development and marketing of wood products, such as charcoal and hand crafted items. Sustainable Forest management can provide opportunities for environmentally responsible enterprises to provide skilled jobs for development of wood products and furniture, as well as stabilizing forests health and making it more resistant to drought, fire and pests.
The Ministry of Environment is working with UN-REDD to work in partnership with government and communities, to tackle and support the countries unique circumstances to ensure that the forests continue to provide ecosystem services, cultural values, green jobs and business opportunities, for now and future generation of our children.
Mongolia’s forests, soils and peatlands are carbon rich, provide livelihood opportunities and vital ecosystem services that need protection. These forest ecosystems are often overlooked in climate change discussions, with the emphasis often placed upon tropical forest countries, coastal communities and island states.
Mongolia is a landlocked country in the boreal zone and is faced with increasing climate change hazards. The increased severity of winters, annual temperatures three times the global average and permafrost melting, results in impacts on forests and livelihoods in the future.
The UN-REDD National REDD+ Strategy and Action plan will develop measures for the sustainable use and protection of forest land. On behalf of the UN and Mongolian partners, we would like to make a call for concrete action for support from domestic and international partners to support these vital forest ecosystems.