Sustainable Urban Forestry in Ulaanbaatar

Region : Ulaanbaatar | Mongolia

Goal : Goal 1 | Goal 5 | Goal 8 | Goal 11 | Goal 12 | Goal 15

Author : Eva Wong

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21.10.07

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ESCAP

CASE STUDY OVERVIEW

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  • TITLE

    Sustainable Urban Forestry in Ulaanbaatar

  • SUMMARY

    Project engaged multiple stakeholders to integrate analysis and planning through systems approaches and make evidence-based decisions to improve forest management.

  • CITY

    Ulaanbaatar

  • COUNTRY

    Mongolia

  • REGION

    East Asia

  • IMPLEMENTATION PERIOD

    -Status: Completed
    -Start: 2018
    -Completion: 2021

  • STAKEHOLDERS AND PARTNERS

    United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), The Asia Foundation (TAF), Ulaanbaatar Environment Department, Ulaanbaatar City Council, Mongolian University of Life Sciences, Public Lab Mongolia

  • THEMES

    - Urban Planning
    - Environment and Resilience
    - Governance and Finance
    - Economy and Jobs

  • SUSTAINABLE
    DEVELOPMENT GOALS

    Goal 1 :
    No Poverty
    Goal 5 :
    Gender Equality
    Goal 8 :
    Decent Work and Economic Growth
    Goal 11 :
    Sustainable Cities and Communities
    Goal 12 :
    Responsible Consumption and Production
    Goal 15 :
    Life on Land

  • SUSTAINABLE
    DEVELOPMENT GOALS(text)

    By moving from wasteful and harmful ‘take-make-dispose’ linear models to more circular approaches that use resources more equitably, Ulaanbaatar focused on addressing SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities and SDG 12 – Sustainable Consumption and Production through Sustainable Urban Resource Management (SURM). The city’s pilot project activities also contributed to achievement of SDG 1 by working to ensure all have equal rights to natural resources, SDG 5 by undertaking reforms promoting equal rights and ownership and ensuring women’s participation in leadership and decision-making, SDG 8 by promoting sustainable economic growth and productive employment, and SDG 15 by sustainably managing forests and halting biodiversity loss. At the national level, the Government of Mongolia in 2018, with ESCAP support, prepared a Sustainability Outlook of Mongolia report that recognized emerging needs to target SDG 12 (and leverage SDG 13 and 15 actions) to preserve Mongolia’s natural resources. The objectives of this project contributed positively and aligned well with Mongolia’s plans to enhance forest management efforts.

KEY CITY INFORMATION

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  • POPULATION

    1,539,810

  • AREA (km2)

    4704.4

  • LOCAL GOVENMENT WEBSITE

    http://www.citycouncil.mn/contact-us?lang_id=en, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4jQVpBNZV5ufq_4kwUQABA

  • CITY SOCIAL NETWORKING

    https://www.facebook.com/UBGreens, https://twitter.com/ub_citycouncil, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4jQVpBNZV5ufq_4kwUQABA

  • SITE (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

  • LOCATION

    Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

+ 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.

EVIDENCE-BASED DECISION-MAKING:
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.

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
     Ulaanbaatar’s forests.

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. 

FUTURE INFORMATION
AND MEDIA

CONTACT DETAILS

  • NAME

    Sustainable Urban Development Section

  • POSITION/ROLE

    Section Chief

  • ORGANIZATION

    United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP)

  • EMAIL

    escap-edd-suds@un.org

  • PHONE

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