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Mongolian wildlife to get safe passage

CMS-backed meeting explores actions to make roads, railways and fences in Mongolia more wildlife-friendly

Representatives of governments, industry, development banks, UN agencies, NGOs and scientists met in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia from 24 to 28 August to find solutions to ensure that steppe animals are able to cross roads, railways and fences.

Bradnee Chambers, Executive Secretary of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)
Bradnee Chambers, Executive Secretary of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)

The growing exploitation of the natural resources in the Gobi-Steppe ecosystem has led to a dramatic increase of transportation networks, required to meet increasing consumer demand for minerals. The existing roads and railroads have proven to be a significant barrier for wildlife migrations.

“Addressing barriers to migration is a key priority for the conservation of many migratory ungulates in Central Asia and in particular in Mongolia. CMS has been working to reduce the impacts of the rapidly growing network of roads, railways and fences on migratory mammals that rely upon the vast, interconnected landscapes of Central Asia,” said Bradnee Chambers, Executive Secretary of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).

The new action plan discussed at the inter-governmental workshop in Ulaanbaatar is an important step forward in further implementing the guidelines which are designed to mitigate the impact of linear infrastructure and related disturbance on mammals across Central Asia.

“The workshop has been a joint effort to tackle the issues facing migratory species in Central Asia. Mongolia contains some of the most important habitats for the Mongolian gazelle, khulan, saiga antelope, Bactrian camel and other CMS-listed species. The fast pace of mineral extraction and infrastructure development is having a significant negative environmental effect. To minimise such changes, standards and regulations are necessary and the timing of this workshop is crucial,” said the State Secretary of the Ministry of the Environment, Green Development and Tourism of Mongolia, Mr. Tsengel Tsegmid.

The new “Ulaanbaatar Action Plan on Wildlife-friendly Infrastructure” makes strong recommendations for oversight and planning of roads and railroads in Mongolia. It aims to maintain one of the largest remaining mammal migrations in the world through strengthening the application of international guidelines adopted under the UN Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).

The State Secretary of the German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, stated: “The mining of raw materials is a Mongolian economic interest. However, we are jointly aware of potential damage to nature including endangered migratory species. With this common responsibility, we work closely together to avoid, minimise or compensate for negative impacts.”

In November 2014 new guidelines on mitigating the impact of linear infrastructure and related disturbance on mammals in Central Asia were adopted at the 11th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CMS (COP11) in response to the expanding infrastructure in the region fuelled by the boom in the extractive sector. The guidelines are one of the tools for strengthening conservation action on the ground under the CMS Central Asian Mammals Initiative (CAMI), which was also adopted at COP11.

The Mongolian Ministry of Environment, Green Development and Tourism hosted the meeting, which was jointly organised by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, the associated Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, the Mongolian office of the GIZ (German Development Cooperation Agency) and CMS. The Mongolian Academy of Sciences and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) provided scientific expertise and support to the meeting.

The CMS aims to conserve terrestrial, aquatic and avian migratory species throughout their range. It is an intergovernmental treaty, concluded under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), concerned with the conservation of wildlife and habitats on a global scale. To date, 121 Parties including the European Union are members of the Convention.

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