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Biodiversity

Taking care of the Taiga

Mongolia’s species-rich Taiga forests are disappearing rapidly due to climate change and unbridled economic growth. With help from abroad, the country is training young specialists to help save the unique landscape.

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Project goal: Sustainable management of ecologically-sensitive areas, training of forestry experts and environment technicians

Size: A total of 1,000 students are to be trained in 3 years

Key species: wild reindeer, snow leopard, musk deer, brown bear, moose and forest sable

Mongolia was once mainly associated with the Taiga, a vast swath of lush coniferous forests that stretches across North America and Eurasia. But, that image now belongs to the past. Mongolia’s forest cover has dwindled drastically with 26,000 hectares - the size of 36,000 football fields - disappearing each year. That has led to a major loss of habitat for species such as bears, wolves and reindeer. Climate change is largely to blame with the weather turning increasingly dry and warm. But, the country’s galloping economic growth, that has fueled demand for wood, and unregulated mining are also at fault. The drier conditions and overexploitation of resources have turned parts of the Taiga into a barren landscape, stripped of trees and biodiversity. The Mongolian government has reacted to the problems by tightening its environment and forestry laws. But the reforms have largely proved ineffective because of a lack of technical know-how and knowledge. Germany’s international development organization, GIZ, is trying to change that. Its experts are helping train young forest officers and environmental technicians. In addition to learning about forest protection guidelines, the training focuses on practical issues - from sustainably managing forests, developing strategies to suppress wildfires to setting up grazing land. A total of 1,000 forest specialists are to be trained to help protect the Taiga landscape in future.

A film by Juri Rescheto

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