Hovsgol GEF/WB Project
Lake Hövsgöl is a graben lake, one of three parallel tectonic basins located at the southern end of the Baikal Rift System. The faulting that formed the basin was associated with mountain formation or uplifting along the west and east sides of the basin. In contrast with the steep slopes of the western shore with 3000 to 3500 meter high mountains that drop abruptly to a narrow shoreline of the lake, the eastern shore gradually slopes upward towards mountains of 2000 to 2500 meters. Streams along the eastern shore flow westward to the lake from their origins in these low mountains. The valleys have a steep south-facing slope and a more gradual north-facing slope. South-facing slopes are covered by steppe and north-facing slopes are forested in the upper slopes, and more moist in the lower steppe. North-facing slopes have permafrost that extends from the mountain ridges down to the streams. South-facing slopes appear to be devoid of permafrost other than in forested areas.
The Mongolian Long Term Ecological Research Site was established in 2002 consisting of six river valleys along the northeastern lake shore extending from the mid-lake area opposite the largest island in the lake, to the northern shore just south of Hanh, a port town for export and import of goods from Russia (Figure xx). The southern valleys are part of a strictly protected zone of HNP, set up to protect Musk Deer. This area has little grazing, but the northern streams along the eastern shore outside of the protected zone are in a region with intensive grazing, with the most intense grazing closer to Hanh. Several nomad families moved into the northern stream valleys following the breakup of the negdels, the herding collectives and have remained here, still moving their animals during the four seasons. Because the valleys are narrow their movements have been considerably restricted from an average movement of 20 to 25 kms each season, to less than 5 kms each season. As a result, in our northernmost study valley, seasonal grazing lands overlap leaving little time between grazing periods for grass to grow again before the long harsh winter begins.
Design of the Monitoring Program
The six valleys allow us to define the impacts of grazing, heavy in the northern valleys (Turag and Shagnuul), moderate in the middle two valleys (Noyon and Sevsuul), and limited or no grazing in the southern two valleys (Dalbay and Borsog).
In 2002, plots were established in cross-valley transects in each valley and forest, steppe and riparian zones for monitoring and experimental studies of terrestrial habitats. Streams are monitored at an upper stream, mid stream (near the cross-valley transect) and the lower stream site prior to the outflow to the lake in each valley.
Climate conditions are similar across the six valleys; climate change impacts can therefore be monitored along a gradient of grazing impacts. Therefore, in defining grazing impacts and monitoring climate change and its impacts in the southern valleys, we can also define the combined impacts and their interaction in the northern valleys.
Staff of the GEF/World Bank Hovsgol Project, 2004