About Mongolia | WWF

About Mongolia

Mongolian nature
© WWF Mongolia
Located between Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China, in the heart of Central Asia, Mongolia spans across the Siberian taiga, Eurasian steppes and the Gobi deserts of Central Asia, and situated in the watersheds of the Arctic, Pacific, and Central Asian Internal Drainage basins. Mongolia covers an area of 1,564,118 sq. km and  stretches for 2392 km from west to east and 1259 km from north to south. About 81% of the country’s altitude is higher than 1000 meters above sea level with an average elevation of 1580 meters. The highest peak is Khuiten in Altai Tavan Bogd Mountain (4,374 meters) in the west and the lowest point is Khukh Nuur (560 meters) in the east. The rivers of Mongolia belong to the inland drainage basins of Central Asia, the Arctic and the Pacific Oceans. There are some 6,646 rivers, of which 6,095 with permanent flow, 3,613 lakes, of which 3,130 with permanent water and 10,557 springs, of which 8,970 with permanent water were counted according to the national water survey of 2011.  

The population of Mongolia reached over 3.1 million at the end of 2015, of which over 2.0 million or 68.5% live in urban areas and 41.5% reside in rural area (National Statistical Office, 2013). However growth rate has been decreasing during the last decades. Migration to urban centers, mainly for employment or education, is strong. The rural population is engaged in extensive herding, crop farming with micro and small scale enterprises and services in Soum and Aimag centers only. 

The climate is harsh continental with sharply defined seasons, high annual and diurnal temperature fluctuations and low rainfall. Average annual temperature is 8.5 Celsius degrees in the Gobi and -7.8 Celsius degrees in the high mountain areas. The extreme minimum temperature is from -31.1 to -55.3 Celsius degrees in January and the extreme maximum temperature is from +28.5 to 44.0 Celsius degrees in July (MEGDT, 2014). Annual precipitation ranges from 600 mm to less than 100 mm in the Gobi. About 90.1% of precipitation evaporates, only 9.9% forms surface runoff, partially recharging into ground water aquifers.
The land use types of Mongolia were seen as 73.76% of the total land was under use of agricultural production including pasture land use and crop production, 0.45% of the land comprised of settled areas such as city, town or any other urban area, 0.28% of the land was allocated for road and other linear construction, 9.14% of the land was under forested or forest fund area, 0.43% of the land was water bodies and 15.94% of the land area was allocated for special needs (National Statistical Office, 2013) An area covering 17.4% of the total area is under protection as of 2014 (MEGDT, 2015) and Mongolia’s forest fund totals 18,658 thousand ha which comprises of 11.92% of the total area of the country.      
With Mongolia’s unique geography, ancient traditions of nomadic livestock herding, culture and customs, and sparse population, Mongolia is an important focal point in Eurasia for both sustainable and parallel existence of human and nature and the conservation of degraded ecosystems and endangered animal and plant species (MEGDT, 2015) Mongolia contains 16 ecosystem types within its borders, which have been consolidated into four ecoregions, namely the Daurian steppe (28.2% of total area), Khangai (16.4% of total area), Central Asian Gobi Desert (16.4% of total area), and the Altai-Sayan (23.1% of total area), in order to increase integration between national conservation and development policies and plans (Chimed-Ochir B. et al., 2010).

These ecoregions with its unique assemblage of ecosystems comprise variety of fauna and flora species which consists of 138 species of mammal, 75 species of fish, 22 species of reptile, 6 species of amphibian, 476 species of bird, over 13 thousand species of insect and 516 species of mollusk, 3127 species of vascular plants, 1574 species of algae, 495 species of moss, 838 species of fungus. Total of 110 species of fauna and 192 species of flora were deemed to be endangered and registered into the Mongolian Red Book (MEGDT, 2013) as either critically endangered or endangered. Main drivers for biodiversity loss are include mostly anthropogenic impacts such as unsustainable use of land, intensification of mining activities as well as climate change impacts.