Status and Trends of Biodiversity
Mongolia occupies an ecological transition zone in Central Asia where the Siberian taiga forest, Central Asian steppe, the Altai Mountains and the Gobi desert meet. Of special note is the Gobi desert ecosystem, which is of global significance because it is the least changed part of the Gobi area, and supports processes and species, or subspecies that are already extinct or nearly so in neighboring China. It is estimated that there are over 3,000 species of flowering plants in Mongolia (9.4% endemism). In addition, there is an estimated 134 species of mammal and 426 species of birds. Mongolia’s bird life is of special interest as the country supports a large number of migratory birds. Of the breeding birds, the falcons, the Chinese parrotbill and the relict gull are of particular interest or rarity. Of particular significance when assessing biodiversity are species that are wild relatives of domestic species. Mongolia is home to Przewalskii’s horse and also to the ibex, a relative of the domestic goat. Southern Mongolia is considered to be a part of a region of great crop-plant diversity that extends into China. According to the Mongolian Red Book, there are 67 species of threatened vertebrates. Some of the threats to biodiversity include: desertification; climate change; overexploitation; poor forestry and logging practices; pollution; over grazing; poaching; unsustainable harvests; loss of habitat; mining and cultivation.
Number and Extent of Protected Areas
Since 1990, environmental protection has been given high priority by the Government and a total of 26 protected areas, covering 12.6 million ha, 8% of the country, have been established to date.