Natural forest formations
Forest cover map
Forests are mainly found in the northern part of the country, along the Russian border forming a transition zone between the Siberian Taiga forest and the Central Asian Steppe Zones. Coniferous Forest are dominant. The forests of Mongolia contain about 150 species of trees, shrubs and woody plants. Most forests are inaccessible due to lack of roads and steep slopes.
Mongolia can be divided into 6 natural zones and belts as described below:
Alpine belt of the Mongolian mountain ranges Altai, Khanggai and Khentii mountains. The belt is subdivided into 4 sub-belts: The summits, lower summits, alpine and the sub-alpine belt. The Summits consist of perpetually snow covered areas, barren rocks and gravel. Characteristic species of the Sub-alpine belt are: Crustome, lichen, moss, yernic (low birch), Dryas tundra, cryophytic Kobresia, Carex kobresia and moss Sedga meadows along with the tundra plant communities. In addition there are some scarce pines (Pinus sylvestris) and Larches (Larix sibirica). The Alpine belt is home of some endangered fauna (e.g. Wild Mountain Sheep Ovis ammon, Siberian Ibex (Capra sibirica), Snow leopard (Uncia uncia), Rock Ptarmigan, (Lagopus mutus) and Altai Snowcock (Tetragallus altaicus) and flora (e.g. the Dwarf Siberian Pine (Pinus pumila), Ptilagrostis mongolica and White Gentiana (Gentiana albida).
Mountain Forest steppe belt
Extends through the Mongolian Altai, Khanggai, Khuvsgul mountain massifs and borders on the Mongolian Taiga belt, which is in the southern fringe of the Great Eastern Siberian Taiga. A special feature of the Mountain Forest Steppe is the abrupt boundaries between the mountain forest occupying the north, north-west and north-east side of slopes and the steppe vegetation occupying the south, east and south-west side of slopes. This belt comprises the convergence of high mountain, steppe and taiga plants, including Poa, Koeleria and their "cushion communities". Dominant species are Rhodicoccum, Carex, Koberisia, Larch (Larix sibirica), Birch species and the plants of the steppe meadows and river banks. The Forest Mountain steppe encompasses 25% of the Mongolian territory and is inhabited by endangered animal species such as the Manual (Felis manul) and the Black Grouse (Lyrurus tetrix). Several endangered plant species are also found here e.g. the Mongolian Pheasants Eye (Adonis mongolica) and Saussurea involucrata.
Mountain Taiga belt
The Mountain Taiga comprises about 5% of the Mongolian territory and is located in the Khuvgul and the Khentee mountain ranges of the northern part of the country. It is characterised by a relatively cold and humid climate with an annual precipitation of 300-400 mm. The growing season is very short. Forests in this belt are dominated by the Siberian Pine (Pinus siberica), and Siberian Larch (Larix siberica) with bunch grasses, dwarf shrubs and steppe grasses Animals inhabiting this belt include the Musk Deer (Moschus mosciferus), Elk (Alces alces), Lynx (Lynx lynx), Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) etc.
Arid Steppe zone
This zone takes up approximately 20% of the area of the country. It includes the entire Eastern and Central Mongolian flat plain. The Mongolian steppe is part of the great plain which starts from the Don river in Hungary. The vegetation of the Mongolian steppe is dominated by Xerophyta several species of Caragana, Artemisia frigida and other feathergrasses. At the same time it also has the plant species of transitional zones which are influenced by the Central Asian desert vegetation cover. Common animals are Mongolian gazelles (Procapra gutturosa).
The above map is an extract from the Global Forest Cover map produced as part of FRA 2000. Please refer to FRA Working Paper 19 for a background to the production of the map.
The Desert Steppe Zone
Encompasses the Depression of Great Lakes, the Valley of Lakes and the Middle and the Eastern Gobi Lowlands. With an annual precipitation of 100-220 mm this area is semi-arid. The soil is loose and the zones have fewer plant and animal species than the northern zones. Vegetation is dominated by dwarf shrubs. Alliumpolyrrhizum, Stipa gobica and Caragana bungei are also found in this Zone. Animal species include the Asiatic Wild Ass (Equus hemionus), Saiga antelope (Saga tatarica) Black-tailed Gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa) Houbra Bustard (Chlamydotis undulata).
The Desert Zone
Is located in the south and south-western part of the country. It has a severe climate with an annual precipitation of less than 100 mm and high diurnal temperature fluctuation. The Desert zone is the home of several endangered species eg. the Wild Camel (Camelus ferus bactrianus), Gobi Bear (Ursus arctos gobiensis), Mongolian Agama (Stellio stoliczkanus). Plant species include (Populus diversifolia), Potanins Trumpetflower (Incarvillea potaninii), Ammopipthanthus mongolicus and Halimodendron halodendron.
The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.
Map source: Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000, base map: ESRI