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UNEP Report Calls for Urgent Support to Mongolia’s Reindeer Herders

UNEP26 March 2012: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has released a report titled “Changing Taiga: Challenges for Mongolia's Reindeer Herders,” which calls for urgent support for Mongolia's reindeer herders.

The report assesses the  situation of the Dukha, Mongolia's reindeer herder community, of which only some 200 members remain. “Achim  Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, emphasized that the taiga, the ecosystem in which the Dukha live, is a biodiversity hotspot and has abundant natural resources, but is also "one of the regions of Mongolia which could suffer the greatest impacts of climate change over the coming decades." The report also notes that a number of resource extraction activities are undermining the livelihoods of the Dukha. It stresses that many of them have abandoned their traditional pastures because of unregulated, small-scale mining of gold and jade, which leads to deforestation, forest fires, chemical contamination and poisoning of water sources.

Kathrine Johnsen, lead author, stressed the need for protected area regulations or community partnerships to take full account of the Dukha's needs and rights to access to their traditional pasture grounds and migration routes. The report recommends: monitoring reindeer numbers and changes in migration routes; forming community partnerships to support biodiversity and traditional Dukha livelihoods; re-evaluating current hunting regulations; and developing local herders' institutions. [UN Press Release]