Management analysis

An analysis of the management of Hustai National Park with the help of the twelve Principles of the Ecosystem Approach.

EA Principle
1 The objectives of management of land, water and living resources are a matter of societal choice
Takhi reintroduction is very instrumental for the acceptance of HNP (Hustai National Park) at national and local levels.
Ecosystem management as of importance for the conservation and wise use of natural resources in HNP and its buffer zone, is gradually being picked up by local stakeholders (herdsmen and District councillors). Immigrants and (some) national politicians question this.
2 Management should be decentralized to the lowest appropriate level
HNP: Managing Director and management team, supervised by National NGO (MACNE). Delegation of management by MNE (Ministry of Nature and Environment) Scientific Committee is an advisory body.
Buffer zone: Law requires a Buffer zone Committee for each District. United for HNP in Buffer zone Council.
3 Ecosystem managers should consider the effects (actual or potential) of their activities on adjacent and other ecosystems.
Legal framework for proper buffer zone management not yet in place.
Buffer zone activities promote conservation and wise use of natural resources in the buffer zone, and explicitly address resident population trying to avoid attracting immigrants.
Role of HNP in ecosystem functioning, especially for its wise use of resources like water and vegetation in times of shortage, is object of study and policy making. The management plan will consider this: e.g.Conditions for opening of the park in times of Zud (extreme weather conditions in winter).
4 Recognizing potential gains from management there is usually a need to understand and manage the ecosystem in an economic context. Any such ecosystem management programme should:

•  Reduce those market distortions that adversely affect biological diversity;

•  Align incentives to promote biodiversity conservation and sustainable use;

•  Internalise costs and benefits in the given ecosystem to the extent feasible.

Relevant for HNP is also the cultural context: Hustai Mountain is a sacred site.
The human populations’ resource base is under heavy stress: After the change to a market economy, poaching is on the increase, forests are being cut, grasslands are being overused. Land degradation is common, and natural “disasters” regularly decimate the stock of animals. Poverty is on the increase, leading to a vicious circle with resource degradation.
The project seeks to develop a buffer zone management programme for which funding has to be secured. To address this range of problems. PRA’s, and resource assessments have been executed. The management plan of HNP defined a policy for HNP to associate the local stakeholders to the benefits of the park (controlled access , employment, investments).
Pilot activities have been quite successful ( e.g. Cheese factory, skill-training for women).
For the park itself, the question is relevant how it can financially maintain itself after external support has come to an end. NGO to NGO exchange is likely to continue (Trust Fund and others), Tourism development is promising and the park has a   potential as field training and research centre.
5 Conservation of ecosystem structure and functioning, in order to maintain ecosystem services, should be a priority target of the ecosystem approach. Aspects of special interests in HNP:

Restoration of ecosystems by reintroduction of a large wild herbivore: Takhi
Forests management (including trials for re-establishment of coniferous forests)
Wolves-management in relation to wildlife and livestock
Degradation control: Monitoring of animal numbers, livestock control, fire-control, anti-poaching, erosion control, management of watering sites in- and outside the park, .
6 Ecosystems must be managed within the limits of their functioning
An extensive research programme has been undertaken to answer questions on vegetation-herbivore interactions, predator-prey relations, primary production of grasslands, home-ranges of Takhi, et cetera.
Not fully understood, but of major concern is the drying out of the Park.
Pastoral systems in the buffer zone need to be adapted to avoid degradation. Cropland needs to be reconverted to range lands.
7 The ecosystem approach should be undertaken at the appropriate spatial and temporal scales.
HNP is relatively small, but is well manageable as an ecological unit. Migrations of Maral (exchange with Bogd Uul Reserve near Ulaanbaatar), Gazelle (through the Tuul Valley), of Arkhali (Across the Tuul River) and in future possibly of Takhi outside the reserve’s boundary need more attention.
The impact of livestock on the park can be considerable and requires a specific buffer zone programme as well as attention to aspects of co-management of the park itself.
Commitment of the main donor (The Netherlands) is relatively short, given the time involved to attain sustainable results.
8 Recognising the varying temporal scales and lag effects that characterise ecosystem processes, objectives for ecosystem management should be set for the long term.
Only by managing the ecosystem sustainable, reintroduction of Takhi will succeed, and both wildlife and man can pick the long-term benefits of the project.
This requires important efforts a/o of public awareness, a sound financial basis, a solid institutional set-up with a long-term lease to the present management and an effective protection.
9 Management must recognise that change is inevitable.
Monitoring is needed to identify changes in the ecosystem and socio-economic systems at an early stage so that management can be adapted. Examples from the recent past include the attention to buffer zone development during the first phase of the project, to immigration and pasture management for the present situation and the hydrological surveys.
10 The ecosystem approach should seek the appropriate balance between, and integration of   conservation and use of biological diversity
The actual zoning plan distinguishes within the park core-areas, tourism areas, and limited use zones. This is reflecting the needs for conservation of biodiversity, cultural requirements, and adapted socio-economic development. (Munkhbat & v.d.Mark, 1999).
The full area covered by the three districts in which HNP is situated has been declared a MAB-reserve (UNESCO). This opens the possibility to develop an approach with core areas, buffer zones and development zones.
11 The ecosystem approach should consider all forms of relevant information, including scientific and indigenous and local knowledge, innovations and practices.
Research is executed by a team of senior and junior Mongolian experts (mostly biologists). They are guided and supervised by national and international experts of different disciplines. In recent years, more human science related expertise has been contracted.
A number of subcontracts has been established with national and international research institutes and experts. Scholarships are granted to students from national and international universities, to do management relevant research at the Takhi Field Station.
This Takhi Field Station organises regularly workshops and seminars in which participants from inside and outside Mongolia are invited to share their knowledge on issues concerning ecosystem management in Mongolia. FRPH organises a similar activity each year in The Netherlands.
The park staff has access to the impressive amount of research data from the past (mostly published in Russian) and to an extensive network of Mongolian scientists, technicians and other experts, and so does FRPH at the international side.
The PRA’s and other sociological studies have tapped local knowledge. Regular information and consultation take place with local herdsmen and other resource users of the area.
12 The ecosystem approach should involve all relevant sectors of society and scientific disciplines.
At the local level, the Buffer zone committees reunite representatives of the local governments with local herders, representatives of women groups and MACNE/HNP.
Other target groups at the local level include police-staff, small businessmen, teachers and schoolchildren.
MNE executes regular controls and audits of the management of HNP. It also expected to ensure the integration of HNP in the nation-wide protected area network, but the initiative for this often has to come from HNP.
HNP has established, through MACNE and FRPH, an important national and international network of contacts. These include a/o governmental organisations, research institutes, and other biodiversity related projects. Disciplines represented in these networks include a/o biologists, zoo-technicians, foresters, sociologists, economists, historians, as well as protected area managers and data base experts. These networks are regularly consulted for issues concerning the management of HNP.
Of particular importance for HNP is the role of the press. Contacts with journalists, photographers, documentary-producers, and others are very good, and the park reaches a wide public through these media.
Visits to the park by Mongolians is still limited.
The Takhi Field Station is gradually developing into an important Training centre of national vocation, where skill-training and custom-made courses are delivered to a wide range of target groups, including rangers, tourist guides, protected area managers and university students.

  N.Bandi, and P.Wit

Dr. Bandi is the managing Director of Hustai National Park and Mr. Wit is deputy-chair of IUCN’s Commission on Ecosystem Management and project leader of the Hustai National Park project, funded by the Dutch government.

More information about the management of Hustai National Park can be obtained from:
Mr. P. Wit, project leader and deputy chair of IUCN’s Commission on Ecosystem Management at