Alumni stories

Working Locally to Protect Grasslands Globally

“Hundreds of years ago, grasslands covered more than a quarter of the planet. Today grasslands are among the most imperiled major habitats with only a small fraction remaining, and they are essential for sustaining life on planet Earth.” Says Ms. Enkhtuya Oidov, a 2002 Humphrey alumna and the CEO of Nature Conservancy Mongolia.

Enkhtuya participated in the Hubert H. Humphrey program from 2001-2002 and has studied foreign policy at the American University. Upon her return to Mongolia, She has devoted her considerable talent and experience to protecting Mongolia's Mother Nature and grassland. Mongolian Eastern steppe contains one of the most extensive grasslands in the world and this seemingly endless steppe of Mongolia contains an abundance of natural wonders: enormous stretches of grassland, rich deposits of minerals, a number of rare plant and animal species. More than 400.000 Mongolian nomadic herders rely on this grassland to raise their animals and animal husbandry is a large integral part of the nation's economy. “However— as development increases and Mongolia seeks to tap into its vast resources—those assets also place the region's environmental health in danger.”

The Nature Conservancy in Mongolia is working to protect Mongolia's grasslands so that they can continue to protect wildlife and aid people in Mongolia and throughout the world.

“We have a unique opportunity to conserve the extensive grasslands of Mongolia, while at the same time, preserving the region's nomadic herding cultures and wide-ranging mammals.” Says Enkhtuya Oidov. The Nature Conservancy is working to apply Development by Design planning that will safeguard Mongolia's treasures. By ensuring that natural resources are used in sustainable ways that benefit both people and nature, Development by Design strategies help people conserve ecosystems while benefiting from their natural bounty.

Sustainable Development is certainly a hot topic today and it is finding its way to Mongolia as well. One of the pioneers to raise sustainable devel-opment in environmental policy field is the Nature Conservancy Mongolia and its director Ms. Enkhtuya, a 2002 Humphrey alumna.

“Development by Design planning will allow Mongolia to safeguard its most precious natural assets while ensuring that people still have access to the resources they need to build a healthy, thriving society,” says Enkhtuya, “Conservancy scientists are currently conducting a survey of Mongolia's east-ern steppe. By mapping the region's ecosystems, the Conservancy is providing Mongolia with information necessary for charting a smart course into the future.”

The Nature Conservancy Mongolia realizes the importance of public and private partnership and makes it a priority to work with the national gov-ernment and the president of Mongolia. They also seek to collaborate with other conservation organizations and local people in their quest to protect and preserve their mother land. President Elbegdorj voiced his support for the Conservancy's programs in Mongolia at his September 2009 meeting with the Nature Conservancy donors, trustees and staff in New York City and thanked the many donors noting that “by supporting the Conservancy, you are also supporting Mongolia.”

It is the belief of the Nature Conservancy that while development is important, changes should not come at the cost of Mongolia's environment and natural resources.

More than 40% of Mongolias population is still nomadic, and many prefer that lifestyle, yet 80% of the population owns a mobile phone and the country boasts a 98% literacy rate — proving that economic development does not have to come at the cost of the environment. The Nature Conservancy is playing an essential role in conservation in Mongolia, preserving a landscape and a way of life that is both unique and universal to humanity and we are proud that at the head of the devoted staff and volunteers in Mongolia is our Humphrey alumna Enkhtuya working tirelessly to protect and preserve the nature and the wonders of her mother land.

Information in the article obtained with permission from the Nature Conservancy Mongolia webpage: