+ BACKGROUND, CHALLENGES AND OBJECTIVES
Ulaanbaatar’s forest management challenges included the following:
• Rapid urbanization, extreme climatic conditions, and environmental degradation in the ger areas (unplanned settlements);
• Sixty percent of the city's population residing in ger areas with inadequate service provision, high rates of unemployment, inequality, and poverty (25% poverty rate recorded in 2016);
• Legal and illegal land plots throughout the forested area as the city expands - increasing incidents of forest fires; forest degradation; and air,
soil, and water pollution from improper use of natural resources;
• Government of Mongolia’s 2019 ban on the use of raw coal in Ulaanbaatar's six central districts, led to a 30-40% rise in household demand for
firewood, further increasing the risk of forest resource exploitation in close proximity to settlements.
Under the Project, research was conducted to improve understanding of Ulaanbaatar’s urban resource challenges and develop ideas to address them. The data, in combination with multi-stakeholder collaboration and systems thinking, were used to develop pilot interventions that addressed the following:
• Strengthened the legal framework for proper use and exploitation of urban forest resources;
• Increased public awareness of the proper use and exploitation of non-timber forest products (NTPFs) and improved knowledge of ecosystems;
• Improved local forest ranger and forestry professional’s capacity to manage pests and NTPFs.
+ ACTIONS AND IMPLEMENTATION
Ulaanbaatar localized the SDGs through a SURM approach, which involved the following overlapping, reiterative steps or phases:
ORIENTATION & SCOPING PHASE:
Ulaanbaatar began work on the Project by participating in an Inception Workshop with the other selected Pilot Project Cities. The participating cities identified and framed issues with the SDGs at the centre of the process. Discussions on how to engage stakeholders, raise awareness, and build knowledge on SURM linked to the 2030 Agenda were held. Participants also examined existing research and data to help identify an urban resource sector to focus on for the duration of the Project.
ENGAGING STAKEHOLDER PHASE:
Given the importance of collaboration in localizing SDGs, the local implementing partner, the Asia Foundation (TAF) led the establishment of a Core Team involving a few key stakeholders and a broader Multi-Stakeholder Network comprised of representatives from Ulaanbaatar’s Environment Department (UED), Public Lab Mongolia, Mongolian University of Life Sciences, private sector, civil society organizations, academia, forest rangers, and the community to build meaningful engagement to co-create change through all stages of the project.
BASELINE & STRATEGIC PLANNING PHASE:
At a Strategic Planning Workshop, the Multi-Stakeholder Network and community members gathered to brainstorm areas of intervention to address problems surrounding forest management in Ulaanbaatar. Participants agreed that additional research was needed to determine forest cover, livelihood opportunities in Ulaanbaatar’s green zone, and potential to establish an ecosystem service fee regulation. The stakeholders also established a Project vision, goals, and potential outcomes of localizing SDGs through SURM.
Throughout the Project, Ulaanbaatar gathered information, analyzed data, and disseminated knowledge with a focus on sustainably managing its forest resources. Researchers conducted GIS spatial analysis to map changes in forest cover; surveyed community members residing in Ulaanbaatar’s green zones to identify livelihood opportunities; and determined that a payment for ecosystem services regulation could help resolve green zone problems.
At their Systems Thinking Visioning Workshop, Ulaanbaatar stakeholders used tools including SDG Cluster Analysis; Root Cause
Analysis; Pilot Project Prioritization Matrices; and Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) Analysis to identify
links between SDGs and forest resource management, developed a shared understanding of the underlying causes of forestry
problems, mapped actors and potential solutions, and scored proposed projects based on factors including feasibility of
IMPLEMENTATION & FOLLOW-UP PHASE:
From 2020 through 2021, Ulaanbaatar implemented three main pilot project activities: (1) Developed regulations and a legal framework for payment for ecosystem services, (2) Produced awareness raising materials including videos and content on the proper use of NTFPs, and (3) Improved the capacity of local forest rangers and forestry professionals through guidance on pest management and proper use of NTFPs distributed through UED. Details of Project achievements and follow up are in the next section.
+ OUTCOMES AND IMPACTS
Ulaanbaatar accomplished the following outcomes and impacts:
Developed payment for ecosystem services regulation
• Conducted extensive research on Mongolian laws and regulations and international best practices relevant to strengthen the legal framework for
a payment for ecosystem services regulation.
• Facilitated numerous consultation workshops to obtain input and feedback on the draft regulation from government, NGOs, academic
institutions, and private sector representatives.
• Submitted draft regulation to City Council. (As of October 2021, regulation is pending adoption and institutionalization.)
Raised awareness on proper use and exploitation of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) and general public’s knowledge on the forest ecosystem
• Produced seven educational videos reaching tens of thousands of viewers on topics ranging from conservation and restoration of pine forests in
Ulaanbaatar’s green zones to forest firefighting to protect forest resources and natural wilderness.
• Developed and disseminated several advocacy posters and videos boosted through social media reaching tens of thousands of viewers to raise
interest and awareness on SURM and urban forestry.
• Held workshops for students (11-14 years old) to educate youth and raise awareness on the importance of protecting, maintaining, and
sustaining forest resources.
• Installed information boards in strategic locations of Ulaanbaatar’s Green Zone to educate the general public on protection and conservation of
Built capacity of forest rangers and forestry professionals to improve management of Ulaanbaatar’s green zone
• Conducted field research to determine crop levels of NTFPs and pine nuts; identify optimal location for collecting NTPFs; understand spread
area of common pests in Ulaanbaatar Green Zone; and map the area of exploitation of NTFPs in the Green Zone.
• Created guidebooks on best practices in pest management and manuals on proper methods to collect pine nuts that disseminated to forest
rangers by UED.
• Delivered capacity building trainings to forest rangers, UED staff, and project stakeholders to share research findings and guidance on improving
management methods in Ulaanbaatar’s green zone.
Details can be found on the Project website: www.unescap.org/projects/da11 (See Strategy Paper and policy action plan annex www.unescap.org/projects/da11/pilotcities/ulaanbaatar.)
+ REPLICABILITY AND SCALABILITY
As several cities in the region have forest resources, green zones, and green belts, many aspects of Ulaanbaatar’s sustainable forest management project are replicable and scalable from establishing a strong and effective multi-stakeholder network to raising understanding of the value of forests and non-timber forest products. The awareness raising, advocacy, and training materials developed by the Project could be delivered to other communities in Mongolia as well as translated, tailored, and delivered to conservation and forestry professionals, forest rangers, and community members in other countries with green zones and green belts. Developing a payment for ecosystem service regulation is also an example that can be tailored to other contexts. If Ulaanbaatar’s payment for ecosystem services regulation is integrated into its SURM policy (still pending as of October 2021), the potential for the model to be introduced to other parts of the country can be explored. Further, the relevance of the regulation extends beyond replicating Ulaanbaatar’s model, as creating a designated revenue stream for conservation is a principle that can be more broadly applied.
+ BUDGET AMOUNT
UN ESCAP provided $48,585 to this Project, and Ulaanbaatar provided in-kind $8,950.