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Water Financing Partnership Facility

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



June 2016

MON: Demonstrating Community-

based Hydrological and Ecological
Restoration of Peatlands in Mongolia

Prepared by Wetlands International in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Green Development and
Tourism and the Mongolian Forest Research Association.

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


Application Form

Activity Title: Demonstrating Community-based Hydrological and Ecological Restoration of Peatlands

in Mongolia
Proposer (Name, Organization): Wetlands International in collaboration with the Ministry of
Environment, Green Development and Tourism and the Mongolian Forest Research Association.
Request Date: 15 June, 2016
Country: Mongolia Region: East Asia
Activity Proposed Start Date: 15 July, 2016 Activity Proposed Duration: One year

Cost Estimate USD 50,000

Implementing Organization Contact: Jill Heyde,
ADB Activity Officer – name, Alvin Lopez, Senior Natural Resources and Agriculture Specialist,
position, division, telephone and EAER, Loc: 6831760,

Background and Rationale:

1. Peatlands provide many important ecosystem services, including water regulation, biodiversity
conservation, carbon sequestration and storage. In Mongolia, peatlands constitute the last wet habitats
in a major part of the country. The peatlands of Mongolia maintain wet habitats and pastures for livestock
grazing, feed rivers, prevent soil erosion, maintain levels of groundwater necessary for forest and crop
growth, and keep wells full of water. During dry periods, which may continue for years, the moisture
preserved in peatlands is a source of life and a barrier to desertification.

2. The Orkhon River is a tributary of the Selenge River of the Mongolian part of the Lake Baikal
basin. In its middle reaches, it passes through a wide valley which in the last century was covered with
impassable peatlands. Unsustainable water management practices in the Orkhon valley have over time
contributed to the degradation of these important peatlands. According to a pasture survey conducted in
2011 in six sub-districts, including Kharkhorin, Khujirt, Khashaat, and Khotont, which are part of the
Orkhon Valley National Park, 10% of the total pasture area of 154,646 hectares were not or slightly
degraded, 38% were moderately degraded, and 52% were heavily degraded (Green Prospect Journal,
2016). Much of these pasture areas are peatlands. The current remains of the peatlands are distributed
along the rivers of the area and the shore of Ogii Nuur Lake, and among inundated meadows in the valley
of the Orkhon River, in Uvurkhanghai aimag. Due to its national and international ecological significance,
an area of 2500 hectares of the Ogii Nuur Lake was the government of Mongolia (GOM) designated a
Wetland of international importance (Ramsar site). However, there are currently numerous issues
affecting the ecological and hydrological integrity of the Ogij Nuur Ramsar site, and hence its ability to

Peatlands are wetlands with a thick water-logged organic soil layer (peat) made up of dead and decaying plant
material. Peatlands include moors, bogs, mires, peat swamp forests, and permafrost tundra (Wetlands International. In Mongolia, peatlands are one of the most productive pasture areas (International Mire
Conservation Group.
Minayeva et al. 2005. Mongolian Mires: From Taiga to Desert. Stapfia 85. Catalog of Upper Austria National
Museum. New Series 35. 335-352.

maintain productive pastures for livelihoods. The key issues of concern include unsustainable livestock
grazing practices, drainage, tourism, industrial hay making, and permafrost thaw due to climate change.

3. The proposed pilot and demonstration activity (PDA) will build 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 Nomghom 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, the local residents initiated the restoration efforts in order to
restore the peatlands.

4. In follow-up to this, the current ADB TA 8802 is planning a multi-stakeholder workshop in July
2016 in Kharkharin. The workshop will focus on discussing peatland conservation and wise use strategies
through stakeholder consultations. This PDA proposal will use this July workshop to consult with local
stakeholders to (i) further understand current 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
will then build on the work of the TA, and implement restoration on-the-ground to demonstrate peatlands
restoration techniques and approaches to a broader range of stakeholders. In this way it will also help to
increase the acceptance of peatland restoration by communities and herder groups elsewhere.

Goals & Objectives:

5. The overall goal of the PDA is to demonstrate a scientific and innovative community-based
approach to peatland hydrological restoration to avert further peatland degradation. The PDA also aims
 develop a longer-term plan for peatland restoration in other sites in the Orkhon valley; and
 contribute to understanding of community-based hydrological restoration of peatlands to
facilitate replication in the PRC and other ADB developing member countries.

6. The traditional approach to restoring ecosystems involves agro-technical and hydro-technical

concepts and interventions. The proposed approach is innovative as it is based on ecological restoration
concepts which include: 1) principles of green infrastructure (using natural materials to enhance natural
processes) and, 2) principles of ecosystem services maintenance (the target and evaluation criteria used
are based on ecosystem services). We will have these information added in the document for clarity.

Scope and location of Work / Description of Activities:

Location of the project

7. The PDA will be implemented in Orkhon Valley which, as described in the foregoing, has suffered
from serious peatland restoration resulting from, among others, unsustainable water management

Description of activities

8. The PDA will involve the following specific activities:

 Multi-stakeholder workshop on peatland conservation and wise use strategies

 Review of existing projects and initiatives in the area.
 Development of a concept of ecological restoration of peatlands hydrology and biodiversity.
 Additional stakeholder consultations.
 Development of a design for peatland hydrological and ecological restoration.
 Pilot implementation of components of the design.
 Establishment of a monitoring system (water level, etc.).

 Development of a longer-term plan for peatland restoration in other sites in the Orkhon valley.
 Mobilization of additional resources for further activities.

Implementation Schedule, Institutional Management Arrangements, and Proponent Qualifications:

Implementation Schedule

9. The PDA will be implemented over a period of 12 months. The suggested timetable is provided

 September-October 2016: Review of existing projects and initiatives in the area.

 November 2016: Joint field survey by experts and stakeholders
 November 2016 - Establishment of a monitoring system (water level, etc.).
 November 2016: Development of a concept of ecological restoration of peatlands hydrology
and biodiversity
 November-December 2016: Development of a design for ecological restoration including
consultation with local stakeholders about the design
 December 2016-January 2017: Pilot implementation of components of the design
 December 2016–July 2017: Monitoring of hydrological conditions
 December 2016 – Juky 2017: Assistance in securing financial support of further activities.

Institutional management

10. The PDA will be implemented by Wetlands International, acting as PDA implementing agency,
through a letter of agreement with ADB, and working in collaboration with the TA Management office in
the Ministry of Green Development and Tourism (MEGDT) and Mongolian Forest Research Association.
This new initiative will be integrated into the on-going management structure of the TA.

Proponent Qualifications

11. Wetlands International is a global not-for-profit organization, with a network of 18 independent

offices around the world. It is dedicated to safeguarding and restoring wetlands – for their environmental
values as well as for the services they provide to people. Wetlands International’s work encompasses the
following themes: water resource management and scarcity; climate change mitigation, adaptation and
disaster risk reduction; sustainable livelihoods; greening the economy and safeguarding wetland

12. Wetlands International has been working in more than 100 countries to achieve the conservation
and wise use of wetlands, to benefit biodiversity and human wellbeing. It is supported by both
government and non-government organization membership from all continents of the world, a specialist
expert network and volunteers. Its mission as an organization is to sustain and restore wetlands, their
resources and biodiversity. The Wetlands International vision for the future is a world where wetlands are
treasured and nurtured for their beauty, the life they support and the resources they provide. Most of our
work is financed on a project basis by governments and private donors.

13. Since its establishment in 1996 Wetlands International has been the leading global NGO on
wetland issues and solutions. About half the world’s wetlands are peatlands, and much of Wetlands
International’s programme focus and competence has been developed on peatland inventory, monitoring,
biodiversity conservation, restoration, sustainable management and policy development in relation to
peatlands. This includes the development of long-term partnerships and collaboration with scientific
expert agencies on peatland related issues from around the world.

14. Wetlands international has conducted work on peatlands restoration and wise use in China on
high mountain peatland restoration on the Tibetan Plateau, involving the improvement of livelihoods for
local nomadic communities having an economy based on herding of Yak, sheep and horses.

Expected Results (outputs/outcomes/effects/impacts):

15. The PDA is expected to have the following results:

Impact: Improved hydrological situation enhances the key ecological function of the
peatlands including land productivity and livelihoods.

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

peatlands restoration.

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

Measurable Performance Indicators:

16. The PDA shall have the following performance indicators:

 Design for ecological restoration in pilot site completed by November 2016.

 Pilot restoration activities completed by November 2016.
 Participants in stakeholder consultations are able to prioritize areas for restoration.
 Analysis of monitoring data from November 2016 to May 2017 completed by June 2017.
 Assessment of pilot activity available to national and local authorities by June 2017 in order to
support implementation of the Strategic Action Plan for Peatlands in Mongolia.

Stakeholders Participation:

17. Stakeholder participation is an integral part of the proposed initiative. Given the very local nature
of the pilot restoration, activities cannot be undertaken without stakeholder support. Local herders, who
are reliant on the peatlands for their livelihoods, will be involved in the restoration activities.

18. A workshop planned as part of the ADB TA for strategic planning on peatlands in Mongolia in July
2016 will provide a key opportunity to consult with local stakeholders. The four-day workshop will be held
in the district where the pilot project implementation activities are planned. Local stakeholders from both
governmental and non-governmental organizations and representatives of local herders will be present.
Field trips during the workshop will visit potential sites for pilot project implementation.

Scope for Replication/Use in Other DMCs:

19. Ecosystem restoration (including the focus on peatlands) has been included as a priority in ADB’s
sector assessment and country partnership strategy for Mongolia, and the pilot study will offer opportunity
for upscaling this to other priority peatland sites in Mongolia. Despite the importance of peatlands from
the water security, pasture productivity, carbon storage, and biodiversity perspectives, these ecosystems
are most often neglected due to minimal awareness amongst policy makers and land use planners. This
pilot demonstration activity offers great potential for replication, especially in the PRC and central Asian
region where water security and productivity of pastures are crucial elements of livelihood support in rural
herder groups. The results of the pilot project would also be relevant for the situation in Central Asian
countries such as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Cost Estimates:

20. The total cost of the PDA is $50,000 as detailed below.

PDA Grant
Expert inputs (ecohydrology and peatlands) from Wetlands International including
fieldwork and field data processing assistants

Community consultations and pilot implementation (purchase of materials for fences,

renting of machinery (e.g. for moving earth, compensation to local community 13,000
members for the time they spend working on the project)

Process documentation and monitoring (assessment, monitoring, protocols review),

including analysis of soil samples

Total 50,000