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Asia Center of The Academy of Natural Sciences

Pasture Carying Capacity and Nomadic Land Use on the Eastern Shore of Lake Hovsgol

Amgalan Bayasgalan, Sereenendorj Badrakh, Bayart Mandakh and Clyde E. Goulden

Mongolians have had a nomadic life style since ancient times. However, during the recent decades, herders have changed their life style into a half-settled style and reduced their movements. This change has influenced pasture rehabilitation and biomass and this way, reduce the livestock production. Because of this reason, it is important to develop a pasture management plan to apply appropriate pasture use practices. For the development of the pasture management plan, it is important to have information of a pasture’s carrying capacity.

We wished to determine level of mountain steppe and riparian pasture use in study valleys and identify plant species’ composition and biomass of each stratum of pasture use. In addition, we aimed to develop grazing maps of the study valley pasture area, determine pasture carrying capacity, and contrast these values with plant cover and taxa in grazing areas.

Determination and evaluation of the level of pasture use and condition will serve as the scientific basis for appropriate scheduled use, conservation, rehabilitation of pasture, and for development of scheduled pasture use scheme.

For the estimation of each family pasture area boundary, we used GPS and recorded location every 10 m along the edge of the grazing area. The maps were developed using 1:100,000 scale map, ArcView 3.2 software and the Spatial Analyst extension. We estimated total grazing area of each family and livestock density.

Depending on pasture type we selected particular sites and collected biomass within the site dividing the biomass into functional groups. Extended geobotanical records were made, cover was estimated visually and richness was estimated by the Drude classification.

Pasture carrying capacity is determined by the amount of livestock that can survive using forage from one hectare of given pasture in the given time frame. Summer pasture carrying capacity was estimated for each family or for each “hot ail”. Each “hot ail” is marked with its own code.

Using the equation, we estimated that this pasture can carry 1.3 sheep units per hectare. In other words, during the 90 days of grazing in the summer camp, this family pasture can carry 1.3 sheep units in a hectare.

Different nomadic pastoral use practices within Mongolia are associated with characteristics of different geographical zones, the amount of pasture biomass and different practices of livestock grazing in different zones. Families of the study area move during 4 seasons. However, the distance between the camps in the study area is significantly lower (4.6 km) compared with average distance between the camps of nomadic herders dwelling in Khangai and high mountain regions.

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