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Green Gold project Applied research component operational report 2014
GREEN GOLD PROJECT
COMPONENT 2: APPLIED RESEARCH
ANNUAL REPORT 2014
Outcome 2: – Applied Research that produces results for the practitioners: Science based understanding of
Range Management issues enhances scope for sustainable range management at all levels.
The 2014, second year of phase IY of Green Gold project, Applied research component was focusing on reviewing of
preliminary results of research activities and its implementation feasibility and demand at different level with partner
institutes like NAMEM; ALAGAC; NUM and MSUA and building of platform for their collaboration.
Output 2.1 Human and institutional capacity is created within relevant ministries that enables i) improved
data management, ii) use of ecological site description-related concepts to interpret monitoring data, and
iii) ) serve by a consistent products on regional and national dynamics.
Output 2.2. ESD concepts, documents, map products, and extension materials are produced jointly with
the target soums to be used by PUGs/soums. They will serve as a foundation for spatial expansion of ESD
Output 2.3. New technologies for forage production with annuals and perennials and for pasture
rehabilitation are developed and demonstrated in experiments for the new ecological conditions of the
target areas of GG IV, are tested with PUGs and transferred to extension services for further up-scaling.
Output 2.4. Human and institutional capacities for interpretation of existing data and independent
adaptation of rangeland management and forage production to present and future challenges are
Output 2.1 Human and institutional capacity is created within relevant ministries that enables i) improved data
management, ii) use of ecological site description-related concepts to interpret monitoring data, and iii) serve by a
consistent products on regional and national dynamics.
A capacity strengthening in set up of national rangeland health monitoring data management and products delivery
to the government
The ecological potential based rangeland monitoring methodology has generated broad based buy-in as a national
system of monitoring and assessing rangeland health, and has been adopted as a national monitoring methodology
since 2011. In 2014, S.Sumjidmaa (Data base management consultant) has been working at the Agricultural Meteorology
Department, Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Environment providing by every days consultancy on following
1. Quality assurance of national monitoring data set:
Based on detailed review of 2011 and 2012 data of national rangeland monitoring covering 1550 plots of NAMEM, we
prepared the list of most common errors could happen at field data collection and data entry level. Following this list the
evaluation letter covering the main types of results they had and recommendations on how to improve have been sent
to each of aimags. It was good to identify the problems we need to address urgently and in other hand to motivate the
local engineers and technicians to improve their weaknesses. As today, NAMEM staff has a different responsibility
depending on their positions like a soum technicians are responsible for primary data collection, aimag engineers are
responsible for error checking of primary data and its entry into Aimag Data base while the national level engineers in
UB are responsible for analysis and interpretation of the whole national data set. As a result of it the government and
policy makers will be provided annually by standardized, clearly defined consistent product of rangeland state of
2. Improvement of plant species identification skills:
One of the key factor of quality and consistency of rangeland monitoring data and its proper interpretation is the proper
identification of rangeland functional key species. Trainings to build the plant species identification skills have been
organized regionally in last two years so we covered almost all aimags except following 7 aimags such as Bayan Ulgii,
Sukhbaatar, Dundgobi, Dornogobi, Darkhan, Orkhon and Gobisumber. These remained aimags are planned to be
covered in 2015. National experts of botany from NUM, Academy of Science and MSUA worked as a resource person for
Fig 2. Regional training for NAMEM engineers and technicians on species identification and preparation of
According to the trainings assessment the 80 percent of 450 participants had a skill to identify any plant species using
the morphological key.
As a result of regional trainings, local engineers and technicians became able to identify the local plant species using the
Plant species key and to prepare a herbarium of local species as a reference.
One of important achievements for this year was the establishment of national rangeland species reference herbarium
for different eco zones (Figure 3). The rangeland key functional plant species of this herbarium will serve by reference
for the species identification and also as a platform for the interpretation of monitoring information.
Fig 3. Rangeland plant species herbarium
3. Rangeland monitoring data analysis and interpretation and delivery of its products.
Based on the rangeland inventory data collected from more than 600 plots, we developed the Recovery concept of
Mongolian rangelands with the heavy support of USDA team with the aim to provide consistent information about
potential recovery options is essential for translating assessment into management actions that improve land conditions
and human livelihoods. We introduced a 5-level classification of recovery potential, called “recovery classes”. They are
based on common patterns of rangeland dynamics observed worldwide.
While the logic underpinning the applications of these classes to a particular land area is science-based, it must be
recognized that in Mongolia, the classes represent testable hypotheses that can be verified or disproven through
management actions followed by monitoring.
Based on the Recovery concept the 26 different models are drafted for most common rangeland community shifts, state
transitions and related triggers and restoration pathways that enables NAMEM engineers to deliver to public the
rangeland health assessment product yearly. The recovery class concept with related models and users guide have been
introduced to the Scientific committee of NAMEM and provided by relevant feedback on its future implications and
sharing with other stakeholders. Following the official acceptance of the concept by Scientific Committee of NAMEM,
the aimag engineers are trained for usage of this concept as a tool for the monitoring data interpretation (Figure 4).
Fig.4. Training on rangeland monitoring data interpretation
Preliminarily, as a result of 2012 national rangeland monitoring data analysis from 1550 plots at NAMEM using the
Recovery concept, as today the 90 percent of Mongolian rangelands is altered in some level where more than 80
percent is recoverable within 3-10 years through changing the management approach.
All of these new concepts and preliminary results of Mongolian rangeland health are introduced to key decision makers
and practitioners of livestock sector in Mongolia through the national workshop titled “Mongolian rangelands at the
crossroads” 16-17, June 2014. It was the first time that the potential options to maintain and improve the rangeland
state in Mongolia are clearly defined and presented.
1. Based on the significant progress since 2011 in monitoring data quality and National data base functioning at the
NAMEM, NAMEM has a great potential for the sustainability of nationwide rangeland monitoring system in
2. NAMEM officially expressed the interest to share information and collaborate in rangeland monitoring and
assessment field with other Institutes such as ALAGAC and MIA.
3. NAMEM has an interest to update and improve the Carrying capacity estimation methodology under GG
Output 2.2. ESD concepts, documents, map products, and extension materials are produced jointly with the target soums
to be used by PUGs/soums. They will serve as a foundation for spatial expansion of ESD development.
ESD research Unit set up at the ALAGAC leaded by Budbaatar plays a key role in creating the better communication
and efficient collaboration on ESD and PUG based rangeland management approach at national and local level. Based on
the knowledge and experience from pilot studies the ESD and PUG based rangeland management approach concept is
developed including all the procedures on defining of soum rangelands potential, mapping techniques, its application in
planning & enforcing the management and the monitoring of the management impact. According to this concept, based
on the ecological potential the Mongolian rangelands classified into 38 different Ecological site groups that are differ in
the climate, soils, landscape position; composition and production of vegetation and how vegetation degrades and can
be restored. With the aim to pilot the application of this concept as a management tool, ESD research Unit activities are
focused in 3 more target soums such as Bulgan soum of Dornod aimag, Undurkhangai soum of Uvs aimag and Ider soum
of Zavkhan aimag representing different eco zones (Figure 5).
Figure 5. Pilot soums of the ESD and PUG based rangeland management approach
Main activities focused on:
1. Preparatory phase:
- Mapping the PUG boundaries
- Mapping the seasonal pasture areas in PUG area
- Defining the ecological potential and Ecological site groups
- Defining the rangeland community state
- Defining the carrying capacity by seasonal pastures for each of PUGs
2. Planning phase:
- Defining the problems to address
- Strategically plan the 4 year period and annually
- Budget proposal
- Approval of soum ESD and PUG based management plan
3. Implementation of ESD & PUG based rangeland management
- Awareness raising
- Better coordination of soum government officials such as environmental inspector, land manager, AHBU
personnel and APUG leaders.
- Encouraging a herders to the proper management through LUAs
4. Implementation & Monitoring of ESD & PUG based rangeland management impact
- Development of monitoring design and core indicators
- Defining the baseline
- Carry out the Photo point monitoring and create the Soum rangeland state monitoring database.
All these phase activities are involved the local government officials and herders as a demo training. As we
learnt, herders participation had a key role in making all of these stage activities successful (Figure 6).
Figure 6. Herders participation has a key role in soum rangeland management
Regarding the Output 2.1 and Output 2.2, today we are at the level having a good knowledge on the rangeland
ecosystem functioning, its potential for resilience and recovery being able to develop the concepts that will be served as
an interpretation and management tool in rangeland management field. In advance to submit the national report of
Mongolian rangeland state we organized a national workshop “Mongolian rangelands at the crossroads:-which choice
shall we take?” having more than 100 participants from government institutes, research community, local government
and herders representatives. The workshop demonstrated the interface between ecological and societal issues in
rangeland management in an unprecedented fashion. The information presented at the workshop highlights the
spectacular progress made by the Applied Science group over the last 7-8 years in 1) becoming fluent with current
science-based management approaches and tools, 2) establishing linkages to the science and tools in the activities of
government operations/ministries, and 3) initial application of tools to guide on-the ground management. This process
had to be learned by all involved and can serve as a model for what can be done globally given the right institutional
setting and leadership.
The next big step toward our ultimate goal--improved rangeland management practices, rangeland conditions, and
herder livelihoods—is to mobilize the ecological tools that Green Gold has developed in conjunction with innovative
approaches at reducing stocking rates. First, rangeland management can be facilitated with lower animal numbers that
promotes natural recovery of plant species diversity and desired forage species that, in turn, increase forage production
and resilience of production to drought. Second, increased forage availability leads to improved animal condition and
survivorship rates during dzud events. Third, improved animal condition can lead to more profit per animal given the
right market conditions. Fourth, improved plant cover, production, and diversity may have several environmental
benefits, including increased soil carbon storage and improved wildlife habitat.
Strategies to reduce animal numbers will enable grassland restoration following the hypothesized management
pathways represented in state and transition models. Thus, it is important to examine the linkage of innovative
approaches to initiate reductions in animal numbers (outside of a Land Law), such as adoption of grazing fees and/or
ecosystem service payments at the soum level, with management planning and monitoring.
The achievements and lessons learnt are presented to ALAGAC Management Committee where they showed a
positive interest to adopt the whole concept nationally and co fund the pilot activities in soum and aimag level. As
requested by Khurelshagai, Director of ALAGAC we organized Inter agency meeting on this topic where representatives
from MIA, NAMEM, ALAGAC were working on following issues:
1. Adoption of ESD and PUG based soum rangeland management approach
2. Potential collaboration of ALAGAC and NAMEM on nationwide and local rangeland monitoring and assessment
3. Inter agency working group set up at MIA on development of legal documents such as LUAs, grazing fee and
As a result of this meeting all parties are agreed on following issues:
1. ALAGAC will sign cooperation MOU with SCO to promote more ecologically, institutionally and economically
sound soum land management approach based on GG lessons.
2. The ESD and PUG based soum rangeland management approach will be leaded by ALAGAC and officially added
in ALAGAC’s land management manual.
3. The ESD and PUG based soum rangeland management approach will be piloted in 15 soums representing
different eco zones and in Arkhangai aimag level with co funding of GG and ALAGAC in 2015-2016.
4. Khurelshagai, Director of ALAGAC will include this approach into the land management policy of new
government that will be presented to Prime Minister Cabinet in January.
5. Rangeland quality assessment methodology at ALAGAC will be adjusted into the nationwide rangeland
monitoring methodology at NAMEM and data bases and products of two Institutes will be shared.
6. Inter agency working group under MIA will work on legislations enforce the resilient stocking rate adjustment
improvement of efficiency of animal husbandry.
1. ALAGAC has a significant interest to adopt nationally the ESD & PUG based soum rangeland management
approach that needs a support in evidence based, applicable practical recommendations and legal environment
where USDA expats technical expertise coordination & collaboration among different Ministries and Agencies
remain very essential.
2. Herders became aware about the resilient stocking rate management needs but encouragement of herders for
active participation in soum rangeland management processes is still needed to be continued.
3. Experiences from ESD & PUG based rangeland management approach have been discussed nationally and
internationally on Central Asian Pasture Conference in Bishkek and Annual meeting of American Society for range
management in Sacramento, USA.
Output 2.3. New technologies for forage production with annuals and perennials and for pasture rehabilitation are
developed and demonstrated in experiments for the new ecological conditions of the target areas of GG IV, are tested
with PUGs and transferred to extension services for further up-scaling.
Technological trials on annual and perennial forage crops and resting impact on degraded rangeland recovery are
carried out at MSUA.
In 2014, we’ve been working more on upscaling the experiments results at PUG level In Buyant and Naranbulag soums
with the collaboration of Extension component.
1. According to the extension trial results, Medicago sativa, perennial legume has a potential to produce yield
twice a year in the region. PUG herders harvested 6.5-6.6 t/ha hay as a first harvest and 8.2-8.8 t/ha hay in the
end of season. Annual species such as Sudan grass and oat produced 4.4-4.8 t/ha hay yield just for one time time
harvest but it has shown the potential to harvest earlier at the milk stage and graze the residues for late fall and
2. Resting impact experiment conducted in three ecological zones such as Ider soum of Zavkhan aimag
representing forest steppe zones, Zuun-Gobi soum of Uvs aimag and Durgun soum of Khovd aimag representing
desert steppe zone covering sites representing relatively similar potentials but having different grazing pressure
(slight; moderate and heavy). According to results, the recovery rate through resting is variable depending on
ecological condition and degradation level as well. The area having light to moderate grazing pressure especially
in favorable environmental condition respond much faster to resting that is highly supportive to Recovery class
concept, rangeland monitoring data interpretation tool.
Post Doctoral students are hired:
With the aim to analyse collected data in previous Green Gold phases and prepare manuscripts for international peer
reviewed journals two Post Doc fellows such as Anarmaa Sharkhuu and Ariuntsetseg Lkhagva have been worked at
NUM. They have been working on systemizing the data and redesigning of work and proposed two manuscripts on
conservative management and recovery of degraded rangeland.
In brief, results suggested that continuous utilization for a growing season and/or repeated utilization over consecutive
years do not affect biomass when conservative utilization is applied. Conservative utilization might have provided an
opportunity for plants to regenerate, refill carbon storage etc. These results imply that pasture of forest-steppe can be
used continuously and effectively when proper grazing management is applied. In addition, results suggest that resting is
important for less productive sites because they are more vulnerable to degradation. Furthermore, results showed that
continuous, heavy utilization for a growing season affects biomass of grass and forbs but not of sedges, implying that
community type should be considered in addition to site history and productivity. These results will be scientific bases of
management practice in this ecosystem. Currently, Post Doc fellows are preparing drafts of manuscript and aiming to
submit it soon to either Rangeland Ecology and Management or Journal of Vegetation Science.
1. Findings and recommendations of technological trials on forage production, resting impact and… successfully up
scaled at PUG level.
2. Since technological trials are not continued in 2015 we will focus on more binding and dissemination of
knowledge and findings we gained in last 2 years.
3. Technological trials on rangeland ecology and management carried out at NUM, will be continued by NUM and
other donor’s fund.
4. Research results suggested that continuous utilization for a growing season and/or repeated utilization over
consecutive years do not affect biomass when conservative utilization is applied.
Output 2.4. Human and institutional capacities for interpretation of existing data and independent adaptation of
rangeland management and forage production to present and future challenges are developed.
1. Capacity development of young generation of rangeland researchers and lecturers through a young
Programs oriented towards building the capacity of young researchers in the field of pasture ecology have been
implemented through “Young researchers’ club”.
Summarized outputs are following:
a. Diversification and expansion of participants: The registered member of the club increased from 74 members in
2013 to 337 members in 2014. Visibility and reputation of the club has increased significantly, so the number of
members is likely to increase in near future. Furthermore, the number of participants attended in seminars and trainings
organized in 2014 was doubled compared with the number of participants in 2013. In addition, the research club has
representatives from diverse institutions including different schools of universities, research institutes, governmental
agency (Ministry of Environment and Green Development), NGOs and private entities in environmental sector.
b. Delivery of demand based programs and user satisfaction: Based on our informal survey, conducted in the
beginning of 2014, training programs and seminars were organized. Eighty three percent of the participants of
questionnaire, which distributed in October 2014, indicated that the training programs met their demands; contributed
to improving their knowledge and skills; and was excellent. It became evident that the number of participants will
increase in near future due to high demand. For example, eight students and a lecturer from the Agricultural University
of Darkhan attended last seminar, and expressed their interest to consistently attend our trainings.
c. Strengthened individual skills and competences: The general background knowledge and capacity of the students
have been steadily improving thanks to various activities, grants and fellowships. For instance, thanks to language
training, language ability of participants was statistically significantly improved (t5=7.26, P<0.001). These activities and
support yields visible results. For example, Vandandorj Sumiya, young researcher from NAMHEM, has participated in
language training program, recently been awarded an Australian government scholarship, and accepted at master’s
programs at Australian University. Also, Munkhzul Ts, a senior student in the Ecology curriculum at NUM, has been
awarded a nationally prestigious scholarship from the Oyu Tolgoi Company.
d. Increased knowledge on internationally recognized research methodologies and concepts: Through various
activities such as field training, one-to-one consultation, workshops, seminars, the knowledge about internationally
recognized research methodologies and concepts of members was notably increased. In general, 70-75% of participants
of the questionnaire distributed among active members indicated that they got introduced to current paradigms,
theories and practices in the field of rangeland; they provided an opportunity to approach holistically to issues in the
field of pastureland; they got introduced to current, state-of-art aspects; they learnt research methodology and
methods of data analyses; and they got opportunities to get advice from more experienced researchers.
e. Presentations and publications: Currently, grant awardees in 2014, produced one article, accepted at peer-
reviewed international journal. In addition, draft of manuscript is in preparation by another grant awardee. In near
future, research conducted in 2013-2014 by students will yield, a scientific article, with aim of submitting peer-reviewed
international journal, an economic model, which incorporate pasture characteristics and the economic considerations of
a herder family, and a management technique to improve pasture quality, several recommendations for policy makers
and database of pasture.
Competitive research grant program
We aim to improve competitiveness of young researchers via the program above so that they can compete and earn
international scholarships. We planned to spend the budget for individual research of young researchers by calling for
competitive research grant proposals among young people who are specializing in rangeland-related fields. It was an
open call and by announcing the call in early spring that young researchers to use this opportunity for the growing
season of this year.
Currently, grant awardees in 2014, produced one article, accepted at peer-reviewed international journal (Spatial and
temporal variability in vegetation cover of Mongolia and its implications, Sumiya VANDANDORJ, Batdelger GANTSETSEG,
Bazartseren BOLDGIV). In addition, draft of manuscript is in preparation by another grant awardee. In near future,
research conducted in 2013-2014 by students will yield, a scientific article, with aim of submitting peer-reviewed
international journal, an economic model, which incorporate pasture characteristics and the economic considerations of
a herder family, and a management technique to improve pasture quality, several recommendations for policy makers
and database of pasture.
Curriculum/ syllabus development of rangeland management courses at MSUA
“Rangeland management” and “Animal nutrition” curriculums are revised and approved in 2013 started to be used in
first semester of 2014/2015 academic year. Aiming to support the teaching capacity development, module training is
carried out on internationally recognized concepts and modules for sustainable rangeland and herd management and
best practices where national and international consultants and professionals such as Dr. Batkhishig, Dr. Daariimaa;
Tsanjid and Dr. Maria Fernandez, S.Yamasaki, A.Uehara were giving talks.
In 2013 was selected following two text books for translation that will be used as a primary text book for students and
lecturers as well:
1. Sixth edition of “Range management principles and practices”, Jerry L.Holechek, Rex D.Pieper; Carlton N.Herbel
2. “Livestock Feeds and Feeding”, Richard O. Kellems and David C.Church
Translation and editing of the first book have been completed and now is under publishing, expected to be ready by
beginning of February.
Second book is under translation and expected to be ready by second quarter of 2015.
Author of “Range management principles and practices” has been invited to give a presentation on selected chapters of
the book and University professors, researchers from Research Institutes, Government officials from MIA, ALAGAC,
professionals from Mining sectors have been attended this 5 days program.
It was a well accepted program since it had very actual discussions and brain storming on ecological, institutional and
socio economic features and potential opportunities to manage it in best way with case studies and best practices in
different regions of the World.
• As a first product of young researchers club activities and researchers grant program, one of grant awardees in
2014 produced one article, accepted at peer-reviewed international journal (Spatial and temporal variability in
vegetation cover of Mongolia and its implications, Sumiya VANDANDORJ, Batdelger GANTSETSEG, Bazartseren
• Newly revised “Rangeland management” and “Animal nutrition” curriculums are in use in MSUA program and a
primary text books will be ready soon for students use.
Ider (Zavkhan) Heavily degraded pasture on June and August