Land and Resources, Environmental Issues
ratio of sheep, agricultural runoff, overgrazing, rain storms, desertification
Most of Mongolia is covered in desert or arid grassland—only 6.8 percent (2000) is forested. The country has one of the world’s highest ratios of livestock to people. In 2000, for example, the ratio of sheep to people was 5.3 to 1. The country’s soils are fragile and its vegetation is prone to overgrazing. Wind and rain storms erode the soils, and desertification of the land surrounding the Gobi is an increasing problem. Because of agricultural runoff and the natural scarcity of fresh water, only 77 percent of urban residents and 30 percent of rural inhabitants have access to safe drinking water (2000). The burning of soft coal and the concentration of factories in Ulaanbaatar, the capital, have severely polluted the air in the area.
Mongolia’s government has designated 10.3 percent (1997) of the country’s total land area as protected. The government has ratified international environmental agreements on biodiversity, desertification, ozone layer protection, endangered species, and other issues.
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