Stretching across Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and China, the Altai-Sayan ecoregion is a mosaic of mountains, coniferous forests, steppe and alpine meadows. With its high level of plant and animal diversity, WWF has identified the Altai-Sayan as a priority region for conservation.
© Hartmut JUNGIUS / WWF
The Altai-Sayan mountain region is highlighted in brown below
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© WWF / Hartmut JUNGIUS
The following threats exist in the ecoregion:
- Poaching and illegal trade in flora and fauna
- Development of infrastructure and industry
- Impact of climate change on species and ecosystems
- Competition for pastures, overgrazing
- Deforestation, unsustainable forestry practices
- Water pollution
- Poverty and unemployment
To forge a common understanding and vision for sustainable development and conservation in the ASER, WWF facilitated an international conference called the Altai-Sayan Forum in Belokurikha, Russia on 2-9 October 1999. The idea of developing a comprehensive Ecoregional Conservation Action Plan, based on national-level Conservation Action Plans, was suggested. Also, the Altai-Sayan Millennium Initiative to conserve biological diversity as a global favour to all humankind was accepted at this event. It was signed by the governor of Republic of Khakassia, heads of four Mongolian aimaks, the director of WWF Russia and by the heads of all regions of the project, making it an important political document.
In 2000, an agreement was signed between WWF, UNDP-GEF and the Russian Ministry for Natural Resources (MNR) for the development of a GEF “PDF-B” funding proposal, resulting in WWF being commissioned to draft the Altai-Sayan Ecoregion Conservation Action Plan (ASECAP) for the Russian part of ASER with work starting in April 2002.
WWF Mongolia played a similar crucial role in preparing the UNDP-GEF project in Mongolia. ASECAP provided a framework for donors and institutions to pursue specific actions. In the same year (2002) a Regional Steering Committee was established to support the UNDP/ GEF programme implementation on international level with the purpose to ensure strategic planning and financial coverage for project activities.
Facts & Figures
- The Altai-Sayan ecoregion covers over 1 million square kilometres; 2,000km east to west.
- About 62% of the area is located in Russia, 29% in Mongolia, 5% in Kazakhstan and 4% in China.
- At 4506m, Mt Belukha in Russia is the highest peak of the Altai Mountains.
- There are about 4,500-6,000 snow leopards in the wild.
- Altai argali are the largest of all wild sheep; adult males can weigh up to 200kg and their massive horns up to 27kg.