The Steppe Forward Programme
The Steppe Forward Programme (SFP) is aimed at empowering Mongolian people to create and manage conservation programmes by providing them with the tools and skills necessary to design and implement their own ecological studies, surveys and monitoring schemes.
The programme was originally a Darwin initiative (UK Defra) funded collaboration between the Zoological Society of London, and the National University of Mongolia, which began in 2003.
Traditionally, the majority of the research conducted in Mongolia has been carried out by foreign researchers, meaning that most of the knowledge and results have left the country. In order to avoid this state of affairs, Mongolian people need to be able to conduct their own research. Unfortunately, the poor availability of foreign literature, and the lack of knowledge of suitable surveying methods compromised Mongolian research efforts.
In order to address these problems, the SFP is aimed at capacity building at several different levels of society, from herders to students to environmental professionals. The SFP aims to train people how to gather and analyse ecological data in order to monitor how threats to Mongolian biodiversity may be impacting on species and populations. Additionally, the project aims to raise awareness in local communities of the problems faced by Mongolian biodiversity.
ZSL and the National University of Mongolia are now involved in a wide range of conservation projects that are conducted as part of the Steppe Forward Programme.