Our Priorities

Protect Land and Water

Moon at sunrise, Mongolia.
Moon at sunrise over a herd of grazing horses, Mongolia. © Bayar Balgantseren

Mongolia 30 by 30

By 2030, expand the National Protected Area network by an additional 14 million hectares (9%) which will enable Mongolia to achieve the national target of protecting 30% of representative ecosystems—known as the “30 by 30” goal.

For the first time in human history, the world has come together with a common goal to protect nature. In December 2022, over 190 countries adopted the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (also known as The Biodiversity Plan)—an international commitment to better protect the planet that sustains us all.

The framework includes 23 targets aimed at reversing habitat and species loss. Target 3, colloquially known as “30x30”, specifically calls for the effective protection and management of 30% of the world’s terrestrial, inland water, and coastal and marine areas by the year 2030.

Put simply, 30x30 is the biggest conservation commitment the world has ever seen. To date, more than 190 countries have committed to achieving the global goal.


Thirty years ago, Mongolia already set this goal to formally protect 30% of its lands—a goal now shared around the world.

Conserving Mongolia’s grasslands is critical to the nation’s future and way of life, which is why TNC has worked here since 2008. Recognizing the importance, 30 years ago the Mongolian government pledged to protect 30 percent of the country by 2030. Among the key lands it seeks to protect is the Eastern Steppe, which at 10 times the size of the African Serengeti is the world’s largest intact temperate grassland.

Milestone Land Protection in Mongolia Mongolia designated 22 new protected areas totalling 8.4 million acres.

As the maps below show, this is an extraordinary expansion of nationally and locally administered protected areas, such as national parks, nature reserves and wilderness areas. In 2019, Mongolia designated 22 new protected areas totaling 8.4 million acres. These areas, which span the rugged Altai Mountains in the west to the grasslands of Dornod Province in the east, are home to rare wildlife such as snow leopards and argali sheep that require vast landscapes to thrive.

A Map of Mongolia's protected areas in 2020.
A Map of Mongolia's protected areas before 2008.
Protected Areas in Mongolia A comparison of protected areas before 2008 and in 2020.

Mongolia’s grasslands are one of the planet’s most critical conservation priorities—a last-chance ecosystem that must be saved for a sustainable future.

From east to west, Mongolia’s grasslands span 80 percent of the country and generate livelihoods for 200,000 families of nomadic herders. And, as the only large-scale habitat of this type in Asia, they provide a rare refuge for native wildlife such as argali sheep, gazelles, snow leopards, demoiselle cranes, cinereous vultures and saiga—a critically endangered antelope.

But Mongolia’s grasslands are at risk. Today, the transition to a market economy has increased private livestock ownership on public lands, causing severe overgrazing and habitat degradation. This overgrazing and other unsustainable practices like deforestation and mining pose a significant risk to Mongolia's ecosystems.

According to the Asian Development Bank, about 70% of Mongolia’s pastures are now degraded, impacting both the climate resilience and the livelihoods of nomadic herders. Protecting rangelands is crucial, as they are significant carbon sinks, historically absorbing about 31 teragrams of carbon annually.

Ecoregional assessment

TNC Mongolia conducted a nationwide landscape-level study called “Ecoregional assessment” in cooperation with relevant stakeholders and identified ecologically significant and conservation priorities across Mongolia. Based on these ecoregional assessment results, we are providing support for protecting lands under national and local designation.