This means that the threat of mining within the Tost Nature Reserve is now gone, and no more disputes over rights and claims exist.
“This October, we have received an official confirmation from the cadastal office of the Mongolian Republic. It states that there are no more mining licenses overlapping with the reserve boundaries”, says Bayara Agvaantseren, the Snow Leopard Trust’s Mongolia Country Director.
At the time Tost was declared a Nature Reserve, mining companies held more than a dozen active exploration licenses within the protected area, which gave them the right to dig for precious minerals. These licenses were purchased legally before the decision to protect Tost, so for them to be revoked, the mining companies had the to be compensated by the government. This process has now been completed.
“This is a huge achievement for our entire snow leopard conservation community”, says Executive Director Michael Despines. “Less than ten years ago, Tost was literally blanketed with mining licenses. It’s been a long hard road to try to change that, and our donors and supporters have been with us every step of the way, through small successes and big setbacks. Now, thanks to your support and our Mongolia team’s incredible grassroots work, we have official word that all the licenses are gone. That means 7500 sq km now completely freed from the threat of legal mining.”
“Any future change to the current status or boundaries of Tost Nature Reserve would now require the approval of parliament. So, to make sure that never happens, we need to firmly establish this place in the minds of the Mongolian public as a key snow leopard stronghold; as a place that must be preserved forever. That’s our next big task”, Bayara says.
At the same time, her team is working with the authorities and local communities to ensure there are regular patrols and monitoring protocols in place to prevent illegal mining activities, hunting and other threats to Tost’s snow leopards in the Nature Reserve.