Mongolia's protected areas cover 20.5 million ha or 13.1% of its national territory. Existing and proposed protected areas, however, are threatened by mining. Mining impacts on Mongolia's protected areas are diverse and include licensed and unlicensed mineral activities in protected areas, buffer zone disturbance, and prevention of the establishment of proposed protected areas. Review of United States, Canadian, and Australian policies revealed 9 basic approaches to resolving conflicts between protected areas and mining. Four approaches suitable for Mongolia are granting land trades and special dispensations in exchange for mineral licenses in protected areas; granting protected status to all lapsed mineral licenses in protected areas; voluntary forfeiting of mineral licenses in protected areas in exchange for positive corporate publicity; and prohibiting all new mineral activities in existing and proposed protected areas. Mining is Mongolia's most important industry, however, and the long-term benefits of preserving Mongolia's natural heritage must be considered and weighed against the economic benefits and costs of mining activities.
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Vol. 1 • No. 3