Mongolia the world’s first boreal country to submit a Reference Level to the UNFCCC

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The Ministry of Environment and Tourism of Mongolia, with the support of UN-REDD Mongolia National Programme recently submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change its Forest Reference Level (FRL).  The UNFCCC is the global authority for countries to report on progress towards climate change and the forests reference level is in essence a simple baseline which shows historical greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. This provides a baseline from which future performance of forest management can be measured.

Numerous tropical forested countries have submitted a reference level, but Mongolia is the first boreal country. The reference level showed that 1.4 million hectares of forest degradation occurred between a ten year period from 2005 to 2015, approximately 140,000 hectares per year. Deforestation, where forest has been lost and converted to other land use, accounted for 53,000ha for this period, approximately 5,300 ha per year. Major cause of forest loss was conversion to grassland (50,000 ha for 10 years) and fire incidence, pest outbreak and illegal logging jeopardized conservation of forest land. Based on the annual emission estimate, Mongolia’s first Forest Reference Level was established as 5.2million tCO2e/year and this reference level will be compared with the next FRL submission for evaluating Mongolia’s effort against the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the Paris Agreement.

This recent achievement of the Ministry demonstrates the successful partnership between Mongolian government and the UN-REDD programme with the active participation of a wide range of stakeholders in Mongolia’s forestry and land use sector. The result of the reference level can be incorporated into the national greenhouse gas reporting and development planning process as well as informing political decisions. This will introduce improved policies and measures to reduce emissions and to improve forest resources in Mongolia for a sustainable and greener future.

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