Values and Valuation: New Approaches to Conservation in Mongolia (2012-2015)

Undurshireet soum in winter(narrow)

This three year Darwin Initiative funded research project brings together researchers, activists and practitioners from Mongolia and the UK to develop innovative approaches to conservation and livelihoods, through exploration, mapping and valuation of ecosystem services.

Contact: Project Principal Investigator Dr Caroline Upton (

Find out more about the team and have a look at some of our key conferences and workshops including upcoming events

Bogd soum Bayankhongor 1(250px)As a signatory to the major global biodiversity conventions (Convention on Biological Diversity [CBD], Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna [CITES] and Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species [CMS]), Mongolia is officially committed to the protection of an important biodiversity heritage. However, recent CDB country reports highlight growing threats to and loss of this biodiversity, linked to desertification and pasture degradation, the ongoing major mining boom, climate change and poorly regulated hunting and logging.

With the support of Darwin Initiative funding, partners from the Mongolian Society for Range Management (MSRM); the Mongolian Academy of Agricultural Sciences (MAAS), including the Mongolian State University of Agriculture (MSUA) and the Centre for Ecosystem Studies (CES); and the Mongolian Nature Protection Civil Movement Coalition (MNPCM) have worked with Dr Caroline Upton and colleagues at the University of Leicester (UOL) to develop and implement novel approaches to conservation issues in Mongolia. Through MSRM’s well-established network of herders’ Pasture User Groups (PUGs) and drawing on contemporary concerns with ecosystem services and their links to biodiversity and well-being, the team have worked with herders in contrasting ecological zones to explore, map and value ecosystem services and to develop and trial pilot Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) schemes. Of particular importance to the approach was the participatory development of locally appropriate approaches to the evaluation of cultural services, thus facilitating recognition of customary knowledge, values and practices in conservation planning.

herder Undurshireet soum(250px)Over the three years of the project, the team has examined the socio-economic, cultural and ecological viability of particular PES schemes, with reference to the Plan Vivo standard and the voluntary carbon market, at selected case study sites in Mongolian rangelands. Through these activities the project team have provided government policy makers with important decision making tools, based on data which incorporates traditional knowledge and values. They have also provided local communities with tangible incentives and capacity for conservation and sustainable resource use through the pilot PES schemes and provided appropriate training and capacity building in PES/ ES to policy makers academic and herders. All of these actions are designed to contribute to enhanced realisation of biodiversity conservation, especially CDB, commitments.

The Darwin Initiative funded research phase of the project was concluded in 2015. The work has since moved on to a new phase in which the Mongolian Society for Range Management, (MSRM), are managing and administering the resultant Plan Vivo project, under the name ‘Pastures, Conservation and Climate Action, Mongolia’.  This will run from 2015-2019. Further information is available at the MSRM and Plan Vivo websites, and also via the 101Visions YouTube Channel.

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