Landscapes of Dauria
Shared between Mongolia and the Russian Federation, this site is an outstanding example of the Daurian Steppe eco-region, which extends from eastern Mongolia into Russian Siberia and northeastern China. Cyclical climate changes, with distinct dry and wet periods lead to a wide diversity of species and ecosystems of global significance. The different types of steppe represented, such as grassland and forest, as well as lakes and wetlands serve as habitats for rare species of fauna, such as the White-naped crane and the Great Bustard, as well as millions of vulnerable, endangered or threatened migratory birds. It is also a critical site on the migration path for the Mongolian gazelle © UNESCO
2020 Conservation Outlook
Current state and trend of VALUES
Overall PROTECTION and MANAGEMENT
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Description of values
Mosaic of diverse ecosystems, including excellent example of the Daurian steppe, in which evolutionary processes are ongoing
Threatened and migratory bird species
Breeding grounds and migration route of the Mongolian Gazelle
Threatened and near-threatened mammals
The official justification for the dam is to “prevent the river from drying” while the name of the project is “Onon-Ulz”, which suggests a possible further attempt for inter-basin water transfer from the Onon River. Some sources indicate that this construction might also be intended to ensure a steady water supply to mining enterprises, since up to 80% of water consumption in Ulz river basin is attributed to mining, with expanding irrigated agriculture as the second largest water-consumer (Sukhgerel and Simonov 2019).
The large infrastructure now built will likely have negative impacts on the following natural features of the World Heritage property:
a) Water regime of floodplain and lacustrine wetlands of the World Heritage property;
b) Sediment flow and erosion patterns and habitat conditions in Ulz River and its wetlands where rare and migratory waterfowl is found;
c) Migration of aquatic species and re-colonization of downstream habitats after drought periods, which is an essential part of natural cycle;
d) Availability of water in dry periods, since at least 7 million m3 is estimated to evaporate annually from the expected 10 km2 reservoir surface;
e) Potential damage to the World Heritage wetlands in case of dam collapse and resulting massive flash floods should also be considered.
Creation of this reservoir may also facilitate development of additional mining and ore processing with associated pollution, as well as aquaculture development with introduction of exotic species (IUCN Consultation, 2020b).
As reported in a recent paper (Simonov, Kirilyuk, Sukhgerel, 2019) in 2017 and 2018 at bilateral talks, the Mongolian side officially informed their Russian counterparts that in order "to protect crane habitat" and the "ecological integrity of the Torey Lakes" there is a need to study the feasibility of an inter-basin water transfer from the Onon River to the Ulz River. Russian scientists expressed concern that an augmentation of the Ulz River flow will lead to unnatural changes in ecosystem dynamics, for example, providing water flow during a dry period when it is naturally absent. Mongolian scientists argued that in increasingly dry conditions, endangered cranes and other wildlife may benefit from a more even water supply if it is artificially secured. No specific plan was presented by the Mongolian side for an assessment of impacts. In November 2018, the topic was discussed in a meeting of the Russian-Mongolian environmental cooperation commission, and the resulting document contains a clear statement: "Both parties take into consideration that maintaining a natural fluctuation of the water regime is a necessary condition to satisfy the criteria which led to UNESCO inscribing the area in the List of World Heritage Sites" (Commission on Environmental Cooperation 2018).
In the absence of any formal environmental impact assessment of the dam project, the threat level is difficult to predict, however, they are currently seen as potentially high.
According to expert estimations, this project might potentially have a significant influence on the property, affecting the natural hydrological regime in the Ulz river basin, including the Torey Lakes, and natural process in ecosystems. In particular, the water flow of Ulz River could decrease, which would impact the water level of Torey Lakes and in turn lead to lowered ground water levels with possibly profound negative changes in the ecosystems (IUCN Consultation, 2020b).
Bazhenov, Y. A. (2019b). Population Status of Tarbagan (Marmota sibirica Radde, 1862) in the Daursky State Nature Biosphere Reserve and Dzeren Valley Federal Nature Refuge. Arid Ecosystems, 9(2), 132-137.
Bazhenov, Y.A. (2019a). Population of Small Mammals in the Vicinity of the Torey Lakes (Southeast Transbaikalia) during the Dry Climatic Phase: Dynamics and Connection with Precipitation. Contemporary Problems of Ecology, 12(1), pp.23-33.
BirdLife International (2017). Important Bird Areas Factsheet: Ugtam Nature Reserve. Accessed 29 July 2017.
Clayton, E. (2016). Marmota sibirica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T12832A22258643. . Accessed on 2 August 2017.
Commission on Environmental Cooperation (2018). Decisions of the 8th Meeting of the Russian-Mongolian Commission on Environmental Protection held in Moscow, November 9-10, 2018 http://www.daurzapoved.com/index.php/en/news-daur/mezhdunar…
Daursky State Nature Biosphere Reserve (2012). Mid-term Management Plan FSBI Daursky State Reserve. Nizhny Tsasuchey.
Daursky State Nature Biosphere Reserve, Mongol Daguur Strictly Protected Area, Natural Heritage Protection Fund, and Institute of Geography of Russian Academy of Sciences (2016). Serial Transnational Nomination. Landscapes of Dauria (The Russian Federation and Mongolia). Proposal for Inscription on the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage List, Additional Materials Submitted in Accordance with the Decision of the 39th Session of UNESCO World Heritage Committee (Decision: 39 COM 8B.4).
Dugersuren, S. and Simonov, E. (2019). Landscapes of Dauria - How to Prevent a Water Management Crisis? Rivers without Boundaries International Coalition.
Geo-ecology’s Institution of Science Academy (2010). Dornod Mongolian Specially Protected Area’s Management Plan (2011-2015). Mongol Daguur Strictly Protected Area Management Plan. Ulaanbaatar.
IUCN (2017). World Heritage Nomination – IUCN Technical Evaluation, Landscapes of Dauria (Mongolia/Russian Federation). In: IUCN World Heritage Evaluations 2017, Addendum: IUCN Evaluations of nominations of natural and mixed properties to the World Heritage List. WHC/17/41.COM/INF.8B2.ADD. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. Accessed 25 July 2017.
IUCN Consultation. (2020). IUCN Confidential Consultation- Landscapes of Dauria, Mongolia, Russian Federation.
IUCN WCPA (2010a). Breaking Down the Barriers. Transboundary Conservation of the Mongolian Gazelle. . Accessed 31 July 2017.
IUCN WCPA (2010b). The Dauria Ecoregion. Conserving East Asia’s Last Vast Grassland. . Accessed 31 July 2017.
Kiriliuk, O.K., Goroshko, O.A. and Kiriliuk, V.E. Why We Should To Protect it? Ecological Problems of Dauria and Role of the International Protected Area in Their Solution. . Accessed 31 July 2017.
Kirilyuk, V., Sukhgerel, D. and Simonov, E. (2019). Landscapes of Dauria - Endangered Soon After Inscription. in Dye et al. Heritage Dammed. RwB and WHW. 2019; www.transrivers.org/pdf/2019HeritageDammedFinal.pdf
Namsrai, O., Ochir, A., Baast, O., van Genderen, J.L., Muhar, A., Erdeni, S., Wang, J., Davaasuren, D. and Chonokhuu, S. (2019). Evaluating the management effectiveness of protected areas in Mongolia using the management effectiveness tracking tool. Environmental management, 63(2), pp.249-259.
Natural Heritage Protection Fund, Russia, Daursky State Nature Biosphere Reserve, Russia, Institute of Biology and Institute of Geography of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Mongol Daguur Strictly Protected Area, Mongolia, Institute of Geography of the Russian Academy of Sciences, International Academy for Nature Conservation, Isle of Vilm, Dresden University of Technology, Germany and Institute for Cultural and Natural Heritage named after D.S. Likhachev, Russia (2014). The First Property of the Serial Transnational Nomination. Landscapes of Dauria (The Russian Federation and Mongolia). Proposal for Inscription on the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage List.
Ross, S., Barashkova, A., Farhadinia, M.S., Appel, A., Riordan, P., Sanderson, J. and Munkhtsog, B. (2016). Otocolobus manul. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T15640A87840229 . Accessed on 2 August 2017.
Simonov, E., Goroshko, O. and Tkachuk, T. (2017). Daurian Steppe Wetlands of the Amur-Heilong River Basin (Russia, China and Mongolia). In: Finlayson, C.M., Milton, G.R., Crawford Prentice, R., Davidson, N.C. (ed.). The Wetland Book II: Distribution, Description and Conservation. The Netherlands: Springer. . Accessed 29 July 2017.
Simonov, E., Goroshko, O., Egidarev, E., Kiriliuk, O., Kiriliuk V., Kochneva, N., Obyazov, V. and Tkachuk. T. (2013). Adaptation to Climate Change in River Basins of Dauria. Ecology and Water Management. Beijing: People’s Daily Press. . Accessed 29 July 2017.
Strahm, W. and Vasilijević, M. (2014). IUCN World Heritage Evaluation Process. Field Mission Report to the IUCN World Heritage Panel. Landscapes of Dauria.
Tendering Documents for "Onon -Ulz" water infrastructure construction project. https://www.tender.gov.mn/en/invitation/detail/157064302934… (Шороон боомтын зураг төсөл.pdf)
World Heritage Committee (2015). Decision 39 COM 8B.4. Landscapes of Dauria (Mongolia/Russian Federation). Bonn, Germany. . Accessed 25 July 2017.
World Heritage Committee (2017). Decision 41 COM 8B.6. Landscapes of Dauria (Mongolia/Russian Federation). Krakow, Poland. . Accessed 29 July 2017.