The Program on Sustainable and Wildlife-Friendly Cashmere Value Chain (also referred to as the Sustainable Cashmere Project) is based on a market-based approach to achieving conservation outcomes. WCS works with communities in the Gobi desert, where cashmere, the primary source of income for herders, is being used as a point of entry to engaging local communities with sustainable livestock husbandry and wildlife-friendly practices. The Gobi desert, with its unique populations of Asiatic wild ass, goitered gazelle, ibex, argali and snow leopards, is also an area with large populations of camels, goats and other livestock that directly compete for pasture resources with this wildlife.
WCS is providing technical support on livestock health, breeding, nutrition, pasture management, and wildlife conservation to local communities, in addition to linking herders to a luxury fashion company that has been paying a premium price on their cashmere since 2015. Through this premium pricing scheme that recognizes the sustainable efforts of the herders, WCS Mongolia's goal is to establish a replicable model that will eventually become self-sustaining through market mechanisms, while achieving conservation results.
This project is based on a collaborative partnership with Kering Group (a luxury fashion group), Oyu Tolgoi LLC (a copper mine), the Natural Capital Project, Wildlife-Friendly Enterprise Network, Sustainable Fiber Alliance, Nutag Academy, VET Net NGO and the Bankhar Guardian Dog project, among various others.