Indigenous Reindeer Herders Contribute to Protection of Nature and Biodiversity: ICR Press Release

June 3, 2013 • Philip BurgessBlog, Nomadic Herders, Projects

Nomadic Herder Team in UB June 2013”…Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to secure the Dukha´s unique culture, livelihoods and destiny if we act collectively, now. There is an urgent need to engage with the herders to record and promote their traditional knowledge, as well as to monitor biodiversity and the land use changes that are occuring in the taiga. Ongoing dialogue is also needed between herders, local governments, companies and others on land use and resource management.” Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director (in the foreword to the UNEP Changing Taiga Report (Johnsen et al, 2012) See

Indigenous Duhka, Saami and Even reindeer herders meet at the UN World Environmental Day (WED) in Ulan Bator, Mongolia to discuss sustainable development, protection of nature and biodiversity.

Nomadic Herders Meet in Ulan Bator for the UNEP World Environment Day.

Nomadic Herders Meet in Ulan Bator for a project seminar organised as part of  UNEP World Environment Day, of which Mongolia is the host this year.

Reindeer play a central role in the Dukha’s social and cultural traditions in northern Mongolia. The Dukha people include about 200 nomadic reindeer herders herding about 1200 reindeer, representing a very old livelihood and lifestyle that is tightly coupled with the local ecosystem of the Mongolian Taiga.

The unprecedented challenges and threats to biodiversity, traditional land use and to reindeer herding economy occurring in the taiga regions of Mongolia are discussed in a WED seminar in Ulan Bator today June 3rd.

The main goal of a new GEF/UNEP Nomadic Herders International project is to develop methods and skills to conserve and enhance biological diversity and reduce pasture degradation of reindeer herding in Mongolia and Russia, while sustaining resilience of ecosystems and livelihoods of reindeer herder communities. A central strategy is to strengthen the role of indigenous peoples in nature protection and improve the long-term well-being of reindeer herders. Indigenous peoples and their traditional knowledge play a central and integral role in this project. The place-based and bottom-up capacity building of the project is a unique approach involving indigenous peoples themselves in protection of the taiga and its biodiversity.

”…The role of indigenous reindeer herders in preservation of biodiversity and ecosystems has hitherto not been fully recognized”, says Executive Director Anders Oskal of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry in Norway. ”One should remember that reindeer herding peoples and cultures have long histories in the Arctic and Sub-Arctic regions, and that these peoples has always been fully dependent on their own natural environment for their own survival in some of the most extreme environments of the planet.”

A new Reindeer Herders´ Centre for protection of biodiversity and sustainable development will be established in Tsaganuur, Mongolia.

Reindeer herders will participate in the project activities and in the development of nature protection mechanisms and its implementation in territories where they exercise their traditional economies. Over a period of four years, the Nomadic Herders international project will work to conserve biodiversity, mitigate land degradation, and sustainably develop reindeer husbandry in rapidly-changing taiga regions in Mongolia which are undergoing significant industrial development and socioeconomic and climatic changes. The President of Mongolia’s recent visit to the taiga and support to the development of taiga reindeer husbandry in Mongolia demonstrates the strong commitment of Mongolia to address these issues. The Nomadic Herders project is a unique GEF/UNEP project, initiated and implemented by indigenous peoples’ organizations in cooperation with national states, based on knowledge co-production and aimed at the conservation of biodiversity and mitigation of land degradation, with a special focus on sustaining reindeer herders’ livelihoods. Hence, to conserve biodiversity, we need to understand how human cultures interact with landscapes and shape them into cultural landscapes. In fact, to a large extent, the world’s biodiversity depends on maintaining patterns of resource use that facilitate the continued renewal of ecosystems. In exploring the relationship between biodiversity conservation and cultural practices of land use in taiga ecosystems, our objectives are to examine the significance of traditional knowledge and management systems and their implications for biodiversity conservation . The new reindeer centre in Mongolia will play a major role for the Duhka reindeer herders documentation of traditional knowledge related to biodiversity and sustainable development.

Professor Svein D. Mathiesen +4790524116, project leader
Executive Director Anders Oskal, +4799450010 International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (The centre is co-project owner and initiator)
Director Tsogsaikhan Purev, +976 990075559 , Ministry of Green Economy, Mongolia.