Between August 24-28th, WCS provided technical assistance and support to ‘Implementing wildlife-friendly measures in infrastructure planning and design in Mongolia’, an international workshop, which was organized by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) secretariat, and the Mongolian Ministry of Environment, Green Development and Tourism.
Substantial strides have been made in this field since the 2003 International Meeting1 organized in Vilm, which produced a Declaration of Intent. WCS has followed the Vilm declaration closely and delivered on many of its action plans. WCS helped produce the new Railway standard, which was approved in June 2015, organized two national infrastructure and wildlife workshops, created a documentary on crossings, and established anti-poaching teams for wildlife monitoring research. The Mongolian Government, private companies, and conservation NGO-s have all come to recognize the importance of migratory corridors. Subsequently, the CMS Central Asian Mammals Initiative (CAMI) was launched internationally. However, on the ground results have yet to be seen among the migratory mammals in Mongolia, which face frequent barriers in their daily movement and require further actions and decisions to be made.
At this international workshop, the different parties convened with the goal of creating a declaration (possibly entitled the Ulaanbaatar declaration of intent) similar in structure to the successful Vilm declaration. Some of the major concerns have included making sure that the new standard is actually enforced, that productive agreements take place with the authorities of the existing Trans-Mongolian railway, that capacity building needs are all determined, and that measurable and concrete commitments are made for the upcoming years.
The workshop ended with a one-day excursion along the Trans-Mongolian railway south towards Choir city. Sightings of cranes, livestock, gazelle carcasses, and observations of the railway fence and underpass designs were interesting elements of this visit. The conference ended in a hopeful note, where government, non-government and corporate agencies all recognized that the cause of the workshop is something that is complex, time-sensitive, but critically important. WCS Mongolia is dedicated to making sure that all future linear infrastructure projects are permeable, and do not threaten wildlife populations. Mongolia is playing one of the leading roles in incorporating appropriate policies to ease wildlife movements, so it is crucial that this momentum is not slowed down.
1 “Minimize Conflicts between Migrating Wildlife and Mining in Central Asia”