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Water Financing Partnership Facility

RETA 6498: Knowledge and Innovation Support for ADB’s Water Financing


Final Report

November 2017

MON: Demonstrating Community-

Based Hydrological and Ecological
Restoration of Peatlands

Prepared by Ede, The Netherlands

The Pilot and Demonstration Activity Report is a document of the proposer. The views expressed herein do not
necessarily represent those of ADB’s Board of Directors, Management, or staff, and may be preliminary in
nature. In preparing any country program or strategy, financing any project, or by making any designation of or
reference to a particular territory or geographic area in this document, the Asian Development Bank does not
intend to make any judgments as to the legal or other status of any territory or area.
Acknowledgements .......................................................................................................................... 2
1. Context and results ................................................................................................................. 3
2. Baseline and background for the ecological community based restoration .......................... 4
3. Process documentation .......................................................................................................... 9
4. Monitoring report ................................................................................................................. 17
5. Resource mobilization strategy ............................................................................................ 26
5.1 Awareness raising ............................................................................................................ 26
5.2 Monitoring and replication .............................................................................................. 30
Appendix 1...................................................................................................................................... 31
Appendix 2...................................................................................................................................... 36

The work of the work of the pilot and demonstration project, “Demonstrating Community-Based
Hydrological and Ecological Restoration of Peatlands in Mongolia” was only possible with the
support of a wide range of individuals and organizations, including local community
representatives, governmental institutions, academics, and non-governmental and international
organizations. Support came from both the national and international levels. The Project Team
would hereby like to acknowledge its appreciation for this support.

The Asian Development Bank, through its Water Financing Partnership Facility, provided the
funding for this initiative. The Mongolian Ministry of Environment and Tourism supported the
project. Local residents of the Nomgon area provided the initial inspiration for the restoration
work, and were involved in its implementation. The support of the Khashat sum administration was
appreciated. We thank all participants – national and international – of the stakeholders’ meeting
held in July 2016 in Kahrkharine, who took part in comprehensive discussions during a visit to the
experimental area and follow-up brainstorming led by two international experts in peatland
restoration – Hans Joosten and Marcel Silvius.

The Mongolian Academy of Sciences, and especially scientists from different departments of the
Institute of General and Experimental Biology and the Institute Geography and Geoecology,
provided on-going scientific advice and input over the course of both the current project and the
complimentary Technical Assistance, “Strategic Planning for Peatlands in Mongolia.” We thank the
international expert on peatland restoration, Ab Grootjans who contributed his expertise from all
over the world to the site. The work of MonMap Co. Ltd was also critical in supporting the spatial
analysis and understanding of the location and changes over time to the peatlands of Mongolia,
including in the area where the demonstration project was implemented. We also thank two other
companies which took part in the tender and prepared their proposals and applications.

Internationally the project benefited significantly from the scientific input of the Institute of Forest
Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences, especially in relation to measuring the GHG emissions
from peatlands. The contribution and volunteer work of Care for Ecosystems is also gratefully

This report is submitted in fulfilment of the final requirements of RETA 6498, Demonstrating
Community-Based Hydrological and Ecological Restoration of Peatlands in Mongolia.

It is comprised of five sections. The following section places the project within the context of the
broader contribution of the ADB to improved peatlands management in Mongolia. The second
section explains the concept of restoration, and the third section provides details of the process
that was undertaken as part of the restoration of the Nomgon peatland area. The fourth section is
a monitoring report of the restoration work. The final section describes the steps that have been
taken to mobilize resources for further funding of restoration of peatlands in Mongolia.

1. Context and results

The pilot and demonstration activity (PDA) built upon the preliminary work conducted as part of
the on-going JFPR financed ADB TA 8802-MON: Strategic Planning for Peatlands. In November,
2015 a technical meeting was held as part of the ADB TA project. During that meeting the project
team learned about on-going voluntary peatlands restoration in Nomgon sub-district, not far from
Kharkharin in the Orkhon Valley. Realizing that the degradation of peatlands was affecting their
water availability and productivity of pasture lands, local residents initiated the restoration efforts
in order to restore the peatlands.

In follow-up to this, a multi-stakeholder workshop was conducted in July 2016 in Kharkharin. The
workshop focused on discussing peatland conservation and wise use strategies through
stakeholder consultations. The proposal for the current PDA was used to consult with local
stakeholders to (i) further understand the local restoration efforts undertaken; (ii) discuss and
integrate additional science-based guidance to complement the community restoration efforts;
and (iii) prepare a work plan for implementing the pilot demonstration restoration activity with the
key stakeholders. The PDA then built on the work of the TA through implementing restoration on-
the-ground to demonstrate peatlands restoration techniques and approaches to a broader range
of stakeholders. In this way it aimed to increase the acceptance of peatland restoration by
communities and herder groups elsewhere.

As included in the approved PDA proposal, the initiative aimed to achieve the following results:

Outcome: Increased local stakeholder awareness of the importance and viability of peatlands

i. Ecological restoration plan for pilot areas of the Orkhon valley.
ii. Peatland restoration activities conducted in pilot site.
iii. An established monitoring system (water level, etc.).
iv. A longer-term frame plan for peatland restoration in other sites in the Orkhon valley
v. A financing strategy for further activities prepared.

The expected outputs were achieved over the life of the project. The ecological restoration plan
was finalized in October 2016. Restoration activities were conducted in May and June 2017, and at
the same time the monitoring system and baseline were established. These processes are
described in more detail in the sections below. Monitoring activities were conducted in May
(baseline), July and September and over the same period the longer-term plan and financing
strategy for other activities were prepared.

The lessons learned from the project include:

• Hydrological modelling, water management arrangements and planning should be applied
to a larger area – either a basin or at minimum and entire peatland – and not only a part.
• Awareness activities should be strengthened: A sociological study should be carried out in
advance to understand attitudes towards the problem and level of knowledge. Awareness
activities should be planned in line with the outcomes of the sociological study.
Explanations, lectures, films, posters and leaflets should be prepared for distribution.
• Local people should be involved in the implementation, including payments for carrying out

2. Baseline and background for the ecological community based

Peatland restoration in Mongolia is possible only through accurate hydrological planning and with
the cooperation of all interested parties.

The approach was tested in a pilot mire in Khashat sum (meaning – fenced) of Arkhangay aimag.
The area is represented by a number of floodplain peatlands fed by numerous springs – areas of
percolation of ground water. During the final mission to the area we discovered that we had
previously used the incorrect name of both the bag (administrative sub-unit of sum) and peatland.
In further reporting and communication, we will replace the name Tsaidam with the name

Usually peatlands in Mongolia develop due to the presence of permafrost and a large store of
ground water. In order to plan restoration, we had to answer the question – is it possible still to
restore the peatland? Is permafrost or ground water in place? To make measures consistent, we
carried out a detailed baseline study and developed the concept of restoration.

Summary of the baseline study:

• The geophysics study showed that permafrost is totally degraded in this area, even though a
large store of ground water and an aquifer are present (fig. 1).
• The peatland is fed mainly by springs. As ground water is available, the main obstacle for
further maintenance of the peatland is regular overgrazing and damage of springs by cattle
(fig. 2).
• The small paths developed as a consequence of overgrazing develop into numerous
waterflows which are draining the peatland (fig. 3).
• Hence, the main activities proposed by the engineers responsible for the project design were
fencing of the springs and installation of obstacles, such as small dams, to restrict water flow.
The latter will also enhance the saturation by water of the remaining dry peat (fig. 4).
• The fencing of springs could cause a conflict with herders and reduce access of cattle to
• As a compensation activity, the project proposed repairing and fencing a dam previously
constructed by herders (fig. 5). The dam itself does not contribute to peatland restoration. It
even contradicts the logic in that it enhances water evaporation. However, to stay in line
with the community, we suggested these measures .
• Not all local herders understand and support the proposed activities. To avoid conflicts, the
company appointed to develop the design carried out work to consult and explain to local
herders about the design. The signatures had been gathered from the most of herders (fig.
6). Posters explaining the reason of constructions had been placed on all fences.
• The baseline study highlighted the whole spectrum of counterarguments and fears. These
were later confirmed by the attempts to break the fences by herders. The work had been
recognised by head of the sum administration, what also helped to convince local herders
(fig. 8).

Fig.1 Results of the research on clay distribution (electric resistivity tomography) to a depth of c. 35 meter below
the surface in a transect across the study area. Clay with poor gravel is brown, mixed part with water-saturation are
light blue, water-saturated gravel with sand are blue and dark blue. Underneath the clay layer at the left end side a
deep aquifer (that can transport water to the valley) is present.

B - October 1, 2016

B - 29 May 2017
Fig.2 The springs in peatland Nomgon bag: A - trampled and partly destroyed; B – partly fenced by local herders

Fig. 3. The features of peat erosion ended up in the formation of the drainage channels

Fig. 4 The concept of the Nomgon peatland restoration: Fig. 5 The larger dam constructed by local herders
fencing of the springs and construction of small dams is under pressure from livestock

Fig. 5 Concept of dam restoration as compensation measure

Fig. 6 Signatures of herders with agreement for project implementation

Fig.7 Discussing the problems of peat degradation with local Fig. 8 Presention of the results of the work to the
herders (May 2017) head of Khashat sum administration (second
from the left) and the head of neighboring bag
(the second from right) by Academician Dugarjav
(left) and Chimed, the local herder who initiated
the restoration work (September 2017)

3. Process documentation
The overall plan for the restoration of the Nomgon area is shown in Figure 9. The project design
concept was developed based on the baseline study carried out in 2016 and reported in the
inception report. The design concept was used as a condition of tender for the development of
design and implementation.

The design documentation presented the position of fenced springs, construction of fences, the
way of dam strengthning and fencing.

Overall, four fences were built and installed. Three were to protect springs (numbers 1-3 in Figure
9). The fourth was to protect an existing earth dam (not shown in diagram). In addition, 12 small
dams were installed, and willows were planted in the fenced in areas of the springs and earth dam.

Figure 9: Overall restoration plan

The dimensions of the fences protecting the springs were as follows:

1. Fence#1 (33mX16.5m)
2. Fence#2 (33mX12.4m)
3. Fence#3 (10mX8m)

In addition, there was an existing wooden fence (brown circle in Figure 9) protecting another spring. This had been previously installed
by local residents.

Figure 10: Plan for fencing of earth dam

The plan for the earth dam protecting the earth dam is shown in Figure 10. Information on the chain link fencing used for the restoration
work is shown in Figure 11.

Figure 11: Plans for fencing

Plan for Fence#1 Plan for Fence #3

Plan for Fence #2

The photographs below show the conditions of the area prior to and following the installation
of fences to protect the earth dam and spring (a and b). They also show the small dams and
planting of willows (c and d).

a. Installation of a fence to protect the earth dam

Prior to restoration Following restoration

Initial installation of fencing

Construction of spillway

Planted willows around the dam were destoyed by trampling

of livestock. Therefore, more fencing was added upstream of
the dam.

b. Installation of fences to protect the springs

Prior to restoration Following restoration

Fence #1 (monitoring plot 2)

Fence #2 (monitoring plot 4)

Fence #3 (monitoring plot 3)

Fence #4 (monitoring plot 1)

c. Small dams

d. Planting willows

By June.15th.2017 By.July.25th.2017

4. Monitoring report
The goal of monitoring is to assess the effectiveness of the undertaken measures for
ecosystem restoration. The specific methodology applied designated indicators for the
ecosystem natural functions and services.

The target ecosystem in ecological restoration is characterised by a number of ecosystem

natural function characteristics – a certain water regime, matter balance, habitat structure.
Direct measurements of carbon or water balance is complicated logistically and expensive.
Hence, the methodology is based on the development of statistically proven indicators
(both abiotic and biotic) which would be the main parameters to be measured over the
course of all long-term monitoring.

The relations of the natural functions, their characteristics and abiotic and biotic
parameters are presented in table 1.

Table 1

Natural functions Characteristics and Indicators, recommended for

parameters monitoring
Water retention Presence of peat, presence Specific species composition,
capacity of the impermeable horizon, plant height, soil moisture
high ground water level, comparatively to the drylands
permanent high moisture of
upper horizon
Temperature resistance Presence of peat, presence Steep temperature gradient,
of permafrost, specific plant species
Stable temperature
Carbon accumulation Presence of permanent wet Soil moisture compared to the
peat; productive vegetation drylands, steep temperature
gradient, specific plant species
Biodiversity Increasing of part of species, Number of species
characteristic for wetlands characteristic for wetlands
and peatlands and peatlands
Productivity High productivity of the Plants and vegetation layer
vegetation cover height

Monitoring was carried out using the transect method. The transects were placed in the
areas where restoration measures had been undertaken (within fences and around dams)
and in the neighbouring areas where grazing is ongoing (control). All transects are in the
area where restoration measures were undertaken (fig. 12).

The parameters were taken on square plots of 50 to 50 cm placed along the transects with
regular steps. Every monitoring plot has a photo with number taken each time a plot is
described. The plots are described two to three times a year. The soil is described once in
five years and also is accompanied with a photo. Also, transect get a panoramic photo (fig.

Fig. 12 Position of monitoring plots within Nomgon namag mire massif.

Transect 4 plot 5 in May 2017 Transect 4 plot 5 in September 2017

Transect 4 in May Transect 4 in September

Soil pit at edge of plot 5 (transect 4)

Fig. 13. Examples of photos of the plots, transects and soil pit/

The parameters identified to characterise a transect:
1. Number of permanent plot
2. Restoration measures undertaken or control
3. Number of transect
4. Photo of transect
5. Transect length
6. Transect direction
7. Coordinates of the first and last points
8. Distance between plots
9. Number of plots within the transect

The full list of parameters identified for every plot

1. Author
2. Date
3. Number
4. Picture (photo)
5. Position along the transect (meters)
6. Microrelief
7. Nanorlief
8. Type of disturbance (grazing, road, path etc)
9. Level of disturbance (rank 1 to 5)
11. Level of rehabilitation (rank 1-5)
12. t° C at 1,5 m above soil surface
13. t° C on the soil surface
14. t° C at depth 5 cm
15. t° C at depth 10 cm
16. t° C at depth 15 cm
17. Moisture (measured in ranks by moisture meter) at the depth 0-5 cm
18. Moisture (measured in ranks by moisture meter) at the depth 5-10 cm
19. Moisture (measured in ranks by moisture meter) at the depth 10-30 cm
20. Depth of the frozen layer, cm
21. Type of organic layer (peat, turf, humus rich clay etc)
22. Depth of organic layer, cm
23. The texture of soil underlying organic layer
24. Ground water level, cm
25. pH and electric conductivity (µS) of ground water
26. Vegetation cover, %
27. Cover of shrub layer, %
28. Shrub layer average height, cm
29. Cover of herbaceous and dwarf shrub layer, %
30. Average height of herbaceous and dwarf shrub layer, cm
31. Cover of moss and lichen layer, %
32. Cover of litter and mortmass, %
33. Cover of open ground, %
34. Cover of cryptogams, %
35. List of species for each layer

36. For each species: cover (%), abundance (rank), average height (cm), phenological

For each vegetation class, once in five years the soil pit is described and documented by
photo. All data are fixed as field notes, and stored further in an electronic database.

Eleven transects and five permanent plots were established and described in May 2017.
The characteristics of the transects are given in table 2. In July the transects had been

Table 2
Permanent plots and transects described in May 2017
Permanent Characteristic Transect Number of Transect Distance
plot number plots on the length, m between
transect plots, m
The spring fenced by
wooden fence with small 1 12 16 2
old metal fence in the
2 10 15 2
5 Area with small dams
4 12 28.5 2.5
2 Metal fence 33X16.5 m
5 13 30 2.5
6 7 9.5 1.5
3 Metal fence 10X8 m 7 7 9.5 1.5
8 7 9.5 1.5
9 8 4 8
4 Metal fence 33X12.4 m 10 8 4 0
11 8 11 1.5

During the works in September 2017 the control transects were set up, and the old
transects were revisited (table 3). Permanent plot 3 was not revisited as the fence had been
destroyed by local people and the material used to improve the fence around the dam.
Permanent plot 5 was not revisited in September (only in July), as small dams had been
destroyed by animals and the effect could not be registered (fig.14).

During the survey more than 150 soil samples were collected and given to partners for
processing, including carbon content, macrofossil analysis, 14C dating. The field data are
handled by the Mongolian Academy of Sciences.

Table 3
Permanent plots and transects described in September 2017
Permanent Characteristic Transect Number of Transect Distance
plot number plots on the length, between
transect m plots, m
The spring fenced by 1 12 16 2
1 wooden fence, old fence
removed 2 10 15 2
5 Area with small dams Not repeated
3 Metal fence 10X8 m destroyed
4 12 28.5 2.5
Metal fence 33X16.5 m
2 5 13 30 2.5
Control 2 m from fence 14 7 27 ≈2
9 8 4 0
10 8 4 0
Metal fence 33X12.4 м
4 11 8 11 1.5
12 5 12.5
Control 2 m from fence 13 7 27 ≈2

Fig. 14 The example of broken dam on the waterflows

The preliminary analysis demonstrated that in spite of the hot summer and low
precipitation this year, the effect of the fencing was already obvious in July. The height and
density of vegetation cover increased, and in September the species composition had
changed, with new species appearing from the dormant diaspores (Table 4).

As a result of fencing, within three months the average vegetation cover increased from
10-15 % to 70-80 %, while in control sites the cover was not greater than 20 % following
the seasonal dynamics. Ten new species appeared, including wetland species - Triglochin
palustre, T. maritima, Polygonum lapathifolium, Carex vesicate, Phragmites communis,
Scirpus Hippolytii (marked in table as orange). The number of adventive and meadow
species decreased, for example the following species disappeared - Eragrostis minor,
Juncus salsuginosus, Ranunculus acer, Taraxacum dissectum, Taraxacum leucanthum
(marked as pink).

The soil water level, moisture, temperature variation decreased. The changes are also
visible physiognomically (fig. 15).

Table 4
Species composition and frequency of species
in the fenced plots in May and September 2017
Frequency (rank)
May September
Agrostis mongolica 0 2
Beckmannia syzigachne 0 1
Calamagrostis sp. 0 1
Carex caespitosa 5 4
Carex duriuscula 5 2
Carex vesicata 0 1
Chenopodium glaucum 0 4
Cnidium sp. 0 1
Crisium exculentum 0 1
Eragrostis minor 3 0
Eleocharis intersita 5 5
Glaux maritima 4 3
Glycera triflora 5 5
Halerpestis salsuginosa 4 1
Juncus salsuginosus 4 0
Juncus bufonius 0 4
Phragmites communis 0 2
Poa pratensis 1 0
Polygonum aviculare 2 0
Polygonum lapathifolium 0 3
Potentilla anserina 3 2
Puccinella tenuifolia 1 5
Ranunculus acer 1 0
Ranunculus natans 3 5
Ranunculus sceleratus 0 3
Scirpus Hippolytii 0 1
Taraxacum dealbatum 0 2
Taraxacum dissectum 2 0
Taraxacum leucanthum 1 0
Triglochin maritima 0 2
Triglochin palustre 0 1

Permanent plot 1, transects 1, 2

Permanent plot 2, transects 4, 5

29 may – 1 June2017 28-30 July2017 15-17 September 2017

Permanent plot 4,transects 9, 10, 11, 12

Permanent plot 5, transect 3

29 May – 1 June 2017 28-30 July 2017 15-17 September 2017
Fig. 15. Physiognomic changes in course of monitoring

The experiment on the ecological restoration in the Nomgon peatland is unique for Mongolia
and provided a unique opportunity for a comprehensive study of the dynamics of key
parameters of the peatland ecosystem, including their critical role in the conservation of
biodiversity and mitigation of climate change. However, in order to fully demonstrate the
mitigation role of restoration activities, the measures undertaken need to be continued,
including monitoring. The outcomes of the pilot should be widely communicated and
replicated both by new pilots and by integration into legalised land use practices.

5. Resource mobilization strategy

The resource mobilization strategy developed as part of the project was based on, i) raising
awareness of stakeholders about the potential of peatlands restoration in order to set the
stage for, ii) further monitoring of the current restoration project, and mobilization of
resources for future restoration work.

5.1 Awareness raising

The aim of awareness raising was to inform interested parties about the work of the project,
and show that restoration it is a feasible intervention to deal with the issue of peatland
degradation in Mongolia.

In support of this, the work of the project was presented at six conferences (for abstracts, see
Appendix 1):
• 15th International Peat Congress 2016 “Peatlands in Harmony” Kuching, Sarawak
Malaysia, 14-16 August 2016
• During two European Geosciences Union General Assemblies in 2016 and 2017,
Vienna, Austria
• Symposium of the International Mire Conservation Group in Russian Arctic in 2017
• SER 2017 (World Conference on Ecological Restoration), Iguassu, Brazil in 2017
• The International Conference “Biodiversity Research of Mongolia”. . 20-23 September
2017, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

A lot of effort was invested in involving local people. In spite of general support, there are
always people who have their doubts. For example, several people had a spiritual objection to
the use of metal as material for fences. Another was suspicious of the pipes that were used as
poles to support fence; he thought that water evaporated via the pipes. There was one attempt
to break the fences. The individual work with herders was conducted but was not sufficient.
Signs explaining the idea of the fences and their role for peatland restoration were posted;
some of them also disappeared.

Information signs on the fences at the dam and fenced spring.

Engineers and scientists explaining the idea of the project

The project’s ideas and results had been recognised by the local administration. A certificate
was presented to the project’s experts. Volunteers expressed their interest in joining the
movement and we had the first volunteer from Germany taking part in the September work.

The award from Nomgon sum administration for efforts in peatland restoration

Personal award of local herder Chimed to volunteer in restoration team

5.2 Monitoring and replication
On-going monitoring of the current peatland restoration work is important to be able to: i)
promote the benefits of restoration in Mongolia; ii) learn and improve approaches towards

The project team has secured a commitment from the Mongolian Russian Joint Expedition to
conduct an additional monitoring field visit to the area in 2018.

With respect to replication, a concept note and supporting scientific proposal have been
prepared for the Khurkh and Khutiin Valleys in Khentii Aimag (see Appendix). The project team
is currently seeking funding to support this initiative.

In order to support peatland restoration work in future, and expand the network of scientists
in Mongolia with an understanding of peatlands, the project team also mobilized funds for one
junior scientist to participate in the 2017 International Mire Conservation Group conference
and field excursion. Efforts are underway to secure a stipend for the same scientist to further
deepen his scientific understanding of peatland restoration and develop stronger international
linkages through a research stay in Germany with the Succow Foundation.

Appendix 1
Abstracts of presentations

Tatiana Minayeva, Andrey Sirin, and Chultem Dugarjav. Ecological restoration of peatlands in
steppe and forest-steppe areas. EGU General Assembly 2016 Geophysical Research Abstracts.
Vol. 18, EGU2016-13788, 2016

Minayeva T., A. Sirin, G. Suvorov, O. Cherednichenko, Ch. Dugardjav, D. Bayasgalan, G. Malkova
and R. Bolshakov. Peatlands on Permafrost: Options for Management and Restoration from
Arctic to Steppe. In: Abstracts 15TH International Peat Congress 2016 “Peatlands in
Harmony”.Kuching, SarawakMalaysia, 14-16 August 2016. P.438

Abstract No: A-137
T. Minayeva, A. Sirin, G. Suvorov, O. Cherednichenko, Ch. Dugardjav,
D. Bayasgalan, G. Malkovaand R. Bolshakov*Corresponding author:
Considerable areas of peatlands worldwide are represented by mire types whose origin and existence depend on
permafrost. Currently the size of their area is underestimated. Mire ecosystems in some regions depend on
permafrost as a source of water. On the other hand – the peat cover is protecting permafrost from thawing. These
types of peatlands can be found in the tundra, the forest tundra and in northern taiga zones of Eurasia, in North
America as well as in many highlands worldwide including semiarid and arid areas. Climate change and
anthropogenic impact are equally responsible for permafrost thaw in most of the cases, accompanied by carbon loss
and GHG emissions, both from degraded peat and permafrost itself. The paper presents cases from the Russian
Arctic (Nenets Autonomous okrug) and Mongolia (Solongate Davaa and Orkhon valey) of dramatic changes in
permafrost depth, followed by changes in mire vegetation, carbon losses and GHG emissions. Management and
restoration options tested in the field or planned for implementation are described. A system of indicating the status
of permafrost, organic matter content and prediction of emission factors by vascular plant species composition is
developed for Arctic habitats. Also plant successions following the changes are described for the Mongolian sites
mentioned above. The study is aimed to develop clear recommendations for planning, implementation, monitoring
and assessment for management and restoration practices in peatlands on permafrost.

Geophysical Research Abstracts
Vol. 19, EGU2017-18238-1, 2017
EGU General Assembly 2017
© Author(s) 2017. CC Attribution 3.0 License.

Community based ecological restoration of peatland in Central Mongolia

for climate change mitigation and adaptation
Tatiana Minayeva (1), Dugarjav Chultem (2), Ab Grootjans (3), Jambaljav Yamkhin (4), Andrey Sirin (5),
Gennady Suvorov (5), Oyunbileg Batdorj (6), and Batdorj Tsamba (6)
(1) Care for Ecosystems UG, Bonn, Germany (, (2) Institute of General and Experimental Biology
Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Mongolia, (3) Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands, (4) Institute of Geography &
Geoecology Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Mongolia, (5) Institute of Forest Science Russian Academy of Sciences, Russian
Federation, (6) Monhydroconstruction LLC, Mongolia

Peatlands cover almost 2 % of Mongolia. They play crucial role in regulation of key natural processes in
ecosystems and provide unique resources to maintain traditional way of life and livelihoods of herders. During the
last decades, Mongolian peatlands severely degraded both due to the climate related events and due to

The peat degradation causes significant losses of carbon store, GHG emissions and is followed by changes in water
balance and water composition. The issue arises if such a type of ecosystems as peatlands could be a subject for
ecosystem restoration in this arid and subhumid climate. Could it be considered as measure for climate change
mitigation and adaptation?

With funding opportunities from the Asian Development Bank a pilot project for peatland restoration had been
launched in 2016 in Khashaat soum, Arkhangai aimag in Central Mongolia. The pilot aimed to merge local interests
of herders with global targets of climate change mitigation. The following questions are addressed: what are the
losses of natural functions and ecosystem services of peatland; what are expectations and demands of local
communities and incentives for their involvement; how should and could look the target ecosystem; what are the
technical solutions in order to achieve the target ecosystem characteristics; and what are the parameters for
monitoring to assess the success of the project?

The comprehensive baseline study addressed both natural and social aspects. The conclusions are: most of peat in
the study area had been mineralised and has turned to organic rich soil with carbon content between 20 to 40 %,
the key sources of water – small springs - are partly destroyed by cattle; the permafrost disappeared in this area
and could not be the subject for restoration; local herders understand the value of peatland as water source and
had carried out some voluntary activities for water storage and regulation such as dam construction; nevertheless
there is no understanding of functional particularities of peatland ecosystem and restoration efforts are not
effective. Following the baseline study the concept for ecosystem restoration project had been developed. The
approach was to merge community based solution with scientific approaches. Restoration in subhumid conditions
should avoid creation of open water surfaces, like channels or reservoirs, and deal with integrative ecosystem
management. The restoration concept involved fencing of springs, preventing erosion and enhancing water
accumulation in soil by cascades of small dams and other small scale ecological solutions. At the same time to meet
the needs of local herders, it was decided to repair the dam, constructed by herders, even if it has little value for
peatland restoration.

The engineering design is now ready and will be implemented next months.

The last part of the pilot is monitoring. The parameters determined in the baseline study are included in monitoring
program to help to evaluate: carbon sequestration rate, GHG emission reduction, water retention, soil humidity,
pasture productivity, social integrity and impact on livelihoods.

S43.05 - Community based ecological restoration of peatland in Central Mongolia for climate change mitigation
and adaptation
Care for Ecosystems UG, Benngasse, 18, 53177, Bonn, Northern Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.
Peatlands cover around 1,5 % of Mongolia and play a crucial role in the regulation of key natural processes
maintenance of traditional way of life and livelihoods of herders. During the last decades, Mongolian peatlands
have severely degraded both due to the climate related events and overgrazing. This causes losses of carbon
store, increases GHG emissions and is followed by permafrost thaw and changes in the hydrology. The issue
arises if peatlands could be a subject for ecosystem restoration in this arid and subhumid climate. With funding
from the Asian Development Bank a pilot project for peatland restoration had been launched in 2016 in Central
Mongolia. The pilot aimed to merge local interests of herders with global targets of climate change 118
mitigation. The issues addressed: the losses of natural functions and ecosystem services of peatlands;
expectations and demands of local communities and incentives for their involvement; the target ecosystem
characteristics; the technical solutions; and parameters for monitoring to assess the success of the project.
Restoration in subhumid conditions should avoid creation of open water surfaces: channels, reservoirs, and focus
integrative ecosystem management. The restoration concept involved fencing of springs, preventing erosion and
water accumulation in soil by cascades of small dams and other small scale ecological solutions. In order to meet
the needs of local herders and keep animals from springs, the dam, constructed by herders had been repaired,
even if it has little value for peatland restoration. The success evaluation included both natural and social

Sirin A., Minayeva T., Dugardjav Ch., Suvorov G., Uspenskaya O., Gunin P., Bazha S., Dorofeyuk
N., Bayasgalan D., Smagin V., Zoyo D., Slemnev N. Peatlands of Mongolia under changing
climate and human impacts // Biodiversity Research of Mongolia. Abstracts of the
International Conference. 20-23 September 2017, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. B.Bayaltogtokh,
Ch.Dulamsuren (Eds.) pp.52-53.


Minayeva T.1,2, Dugarjav Ch.3, Jambaljav. Ya.4, Tsogt Erdene G.4, Burenbaatar G. 3,
Undrakhtsetseg Ts.4, Zoyo D. 3, KhosbayarB. 3, Grootjans Ab5, Oyunbileg. B.6, Batdorj. Ts.6
Care for Ecosystems UG, Germany
Wetlands International, The Netherlands
Institute of General and Experimental Biology Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Mongolia
Institute of Geography & Geoecology Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Mongolia
Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Monhydroconstruction LLC, Mongolia

According to the outcomes of topographic maps analysis, peatlands used to cover around 1.7 %
of the area of Mongolia in the middle of the last century. The latest assessment highlighted, that
during the last decades, Mongolian peatlands have severely degraded both due to the climate
related events and overgrazing. This causes losses of carbon store, increases GHG emissions, is
followed by permafrost thaw and changes in the hydrology, biodiversity, livelihoods. The most
of peatlands are associated with distribution of permafrost – the largest freshwater resource of
Mongolia. Decrease of peatlands ecosystem diversity and permafrost degradation are directly
connected. Peatlands ecosystems restoration recognised in the Strategic Plan on Peatlands of
Mongolia as key activity connected to climate change mitigation and adaptation and biodiversity
With funding from the Asian Development Bank, a pilot project for peatland restoration had
been launched in 2016 in Central Mongolia, Khashat sum, Tsaidam bag. The pilot aimed to
merge local interests of herders with global targets on climate and biodiversity. The issues
addressed: the losses of natural functions and ecosystem services of peatlands; expectations and
demands of local communities and incentives for their involvement; the target ecosystem
characteristics; the technical solutions; and parameters for monitoring to assess the success of
the project. Restoration in subhumid conditions should avoid creation of open water surfaces:
channels, reservoirs, as it leads to significant losses of water due evaporation. The methods of
ecological restoration are based on the integrative ecosystem management. The restoration
concept involved fencing of springs, preventing erosion and water accumulation in soil by
cascades of small dams and other small scale ecological solutions. In order to meet the needs of
local herders and keep animals from springs, the dam, constructed by herders had been repaired,
even if it has little value for peatland restoration. The success evaluation included both natural
and social aspects.

Appendix 2
Development of a conservation and management plan for peatlands
and associated Ramsar site in Khurkh and Khutiin Valleys, Khentii Aimag

Initial Concept Note

14 June, 2017

Brief description

Numerous conservation activities take place in Khurkh and the Khutiin Valleys under different
umbrellas with little coherence between the approaches. There is therefore the need for a
landscape-based integrative management plan regulating all the activities is order to sustain the
existing peatlands and prevent degradation of permafrost.

Activities required

The required activities to support this include:

1. Comprehensive mapping of ecosystem natural functions and services within the
catchment of rivers Khurkh and Khutiin;
2. Establishing systems for monitoring of hydrology, climate, permafrost and carbon
3. Conducting stakeholder analysis and mapping the areas of stakeholders’ interests and
potential land use conflict;
4. Designating areas of high natural value and sensitivity, as well as of high significance for
the maintenance of livelihoods;
5. Developing a spatial landscape management plan, including a supporting the decision
support system run via GIS. The management plan will include restoration, outreach and
monitoring plan. Those should be supported by capacity building: purchase of
equipment, development of information material and demonstration sites, training of
people to carry out monitoring and implement the outreach and awareness raising plan,
develop designs and implement restoration activities.


1. A management plan for the Khurkh and Khutiin valley Ramsar site has well developed
information background
2. The decision support system for the area management is available being based on GIS
3. The capacity for implementing restoration, monitoring and outreach is developed and
handled to relevant authorities and organisations

Scientific proposal concept
Understanding interactions of climate change and various levels of grazing intensity on the
perched wetland ecosystem in discontinuous permafrost region in northeastern Mongolia and its
implication on livestock management and wildlife conservation

Nyambayar Batbayar, PhD, WSCC of Mongolia

Anarmaa Sharkhuu, PhD, National University of Mongolia
Jambaljav Yamkhin, PhD, Institute of Georaphy and Geoecology, MAS
Corresponding email:

Global mean surface air temperature is projected to increase 1.8 to 4.0 °C by 2099; the increase will be
much rapidly at high northern latitudes (Solomon et al. 2007). Already, the observed temperature increase
in Mongolia is 2.14 °C (Dagvadorj et al. 2009), greater than the global average temperature increases.
This increase in mean annual air temperature, coupled with human activities such as overgrazing can
trigger significant ecological changes, including thaw of discontinuous permafrost, shift in biomes etc.

One distinguishing feature of areas with permafrost is the seasonal freezing/thawing depth or active layer
(Woo 2008). The active layer thickness directly affects thickness of water bearing horizon and wetland
formation by retarding the downward movement of soil water (Hobbie 1984; Dingman 1971), and
indirectly affect vegetation growth and other ecosystem functions. Increase in active layer has triggered
various ecosystem changes such as decrease in water supply, change in water biochemistry, drying up
wetland etc (Frey and McClelland 2009; Ireson 2013). Impact of such changes can be severe in regions
with discontinues permafrost and peatland layers and may potentially limit the size of areas suitable for
wildlife, especially many species of waterbirds.

Khurkh and Khuiten River Valley in northeast Mongolia is a Ramsar site that has many perched lakes and
wetlands and it supports highest nesting density of the White-naped crane in the region. White-naped
Crane is a globally threatened species and only found in East Asia with a population size of less than 6000
individuals and most of them are within northeast Mongolia. Their main breeding habitats across
Mongolia, southern Russia, and northeastern China are threatened from climate change, many years of
drought, and grazing pressure. Although climate change is impossible to confront, it is possible to find
ways to significantly reduce or halt the unnecessary and excessive grazing pressure due to large number of
livestock on wetland habitats. With a carefully designed and thoroughly executed wetland habitat
conservation project, it is possible to achieve desirable results. However, to make an informed decision for
such projects, it is important to understand the underlying mechanisms about the interaction of climate
change effect and various level of grazing pressure. It is known that many threatened waterbirds inhabit
lakes and wetlands in discontinuous permafrost region in East Asia and their survival highly depend on
sustainability of active permafrost and peatland layers. Thus the conservation implication of preserving
peatland areas is regarded as significant and global.

The overarching goal of the project is to understanding interactions of climate change and various levels
of grazing intensity on the perched wetland ecosystem and peatlands in discontinuous permafrost region in
northeastern Mongolia and its implication on livestock management and wildlife conservation.

The pastureland in Mongolia makes up about 82% of the land area, and grazing is the foremost strongest
anthropogenic factor for ecosystem stability (Ykhanbai, n.d.). One of direct impacts of grazing is the
removal of biomass, which influences the function of plants and causes the increase in surface temperature
and evaporation, thus indirectly affecting permafrost (Li et al. 2008; Sharkhuu and Sharkhuu 2012; Yang
et al. 2004). Yet, the impact of grazing on dynamics of active layer is not fully studied despite the
significant role permafrost plays in the northern ecosystem of Mongolia. In addition, the impacts of
grazing and climate change can be additive or multiplicative, yet their interactions are not studied in this
region. Therefore, it is important to understand the interactive effect of different grazing management and
the climate warming effect on healthy wetland and grassland ecosystem where threatened cranes and
waterbirds depend on in Mongolia.

Figure 1. Depiction of potential pathways of grazing and climate change impacts on active layer

We hypothesize that (1) air temperature increases associated with global climate change and grazing will
increase mean annual ground temperature and active layer thickness (2) which also lead to drying of
peatland/wetland that in turn affects permafrost degradation rate further. We are proposing to study the
dynamics of active layer and ground surface temperature in response to climate change grazing impacts
using field experiment and numerical simulation of permafrost. Through these studies, we can understand
the extent of climate change and grazing impacts on wetland, and permafrost. Achieving the scientific
goals of the project will generate the knowledge necessary to reduce uncertainty about the vulnerability
of wetland to climate changes and human activities, thus improving information availability for decision
makers. Furthemore, the knowledge gained from this study will help crane and waterbird
conservationists to develop a better conservation and management startegy and measures in the future.

First, experiments will be conducted to examine how further increases in air temperature and livestock
grazing will affect soil processes. Passively heated greenhouses will be used to simulate air temperature,
and clipping will be applied to simulate grazing. The greenhouses will be open topped chambers (OTCs)
constructed of a fiberglass material that transmits visible but not infrared radiation. The OTCs have been
frequently used for simulating global warming because they are inexpensive, non-destructive, and suitable
for remote areas where it is logistically challenging to supply electricity. Most importantly, OTCs raise air
temperatures between 1.2 and 2.0°C in similar ecosystems although they are known to affect soil moisture
as well.

Three plots will be set up, and each plot will have four treatments: +clipped +OTCs, +clipped –OTCs, -
clipped +OTCs, control (-clipped –OTCs). The chambers will be left in place for four growing seasons
and repaired as needed. Clipping will be conducted during growing season. In each plots, the following
variables will be measured: air temperature at 20 cm height by pendant datalogger, soil temperature at soil
surface, soil temperature at mineral surface, and soil moisture at organic/peat layer and mineral layer by
EC-TM sensors with Em50 datalogger. The freezing/thaw depth can be measured by rod at each plot till
mid-summer. The effect of warming and grazing treatment on soil temperature and moisture will be
analyzed by repeated measures of mixed model ANOVA. The path analysis will be applied to tease apart
impacts of warming and grazing on soil temperature and moisture.

In order to investigate impacts of temperature increase and grazing on active layer thickness,
Kudryavtsev’s numerical approach will be used. The Kudryavtsev’s approach has been tested extensively
in a number of different situation (Shiklomanov et al. 2007)]. The input variables of the Kudryavtsev’s
approach are:
1. Meteorological input (air temperature)
2. Snow related (depth, density, thermal conductivity & heat capacity)
3. Vegetation related (height, thermal diffusivity)
4. Organic layer related (thickness, bulk density, moisture, thermal conductivity & heat capacity)
5. Mineral layer related (thickness, bulk density, texture, moisture content, thermal conductivity and
heat capacity)

To obtain site specific input, a borehole will be drilled at each system. Based on the ground exploration,
the depth of borehole will be determined. The borehole will be cased properly and instrumented. Ground
temperature data and measured active layer depth will be used to validate the results of the Kudryavtsev’s

Expected results
The expected result of the project will be a better understanding of impacts of climate change and grazing
on soil processes in wetland area located in discontinuous permafrost zone. The results can aid further
exploration of interactions between wetland hydrology and active layer thickness. Consequently, important
livestock management decision recommendations will be generated from the project results with special
consideration on conservation of threatened species dependent on permafrost and peatland habitats.

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