Title: Sustainable regeland management in Mongolia: The role of herder community institutions

Final project
Year of publication:
Document URL: Link


Following the economic and political shifts in Mongolia in the early 90s, the state herding collectives were dismantled and their livestock was privatized. Pastureland remained state owned, to be used in common by the herders of defined administrative areas (soum and bag). Herders became entirely responsible for their own herd management. Weakening the customary regulatory institutions of the collective period, without any clear formal institutions to regulate pasture use, led to unsustainable grazing practices. Consequently, excessive pastureland degradation in Mongolia has raised debate over how pastureland should be allocated and regulated in a market economy. An overview of historical patterns of pastureland use and a case study of the territory-based herder group approach in a semi-equilibrium ecosystem suggests that a promising solution to address the current trends in unsustainable grazing practices and increasing conflicts over pasture use and access is residence-based groups with exclusive user rights over pasture within their area. In the past, the patterns of pastureland use were managed by a combination of formal regulation imposed by governance structure in place in each period together with informal norms and customs described by the herders themselves. A combination of formal and traditional regulation governed the use of common pasture. In the current situation, privatization of Mongolian rangeland does not provide appropriate solutions and is opposed by almost all Mongolian herders. Focus group discussion and informal interviews with the members of territory-based groups and local authorities has revealed that the direct involvement of resource users in management is a promising approach to improved pastureland management and herders’ cooperative behavior, thereby altering the open access situation. Strong informal users cooperation is more powerful and could help to establish formal regulation on pastureland and or policy formulation in the future. Key findings are summarized in a brief conclusion.

Documents and links