Professor travels abroad

Alexandria Watson

NMU professor Jes Thompson studying the rich biodiverse land in Mongolia. The study was in hopes of helping  the country from succumbing to climate change, dubbed the MOR2 (Mongolia Rangelands & Resilience) project. According to the project’s web page, which is through the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University, the project’s goals were to “assess the vulnerability of Mongolian pastoral systems to climate change” and, hopefully, “strengthen linkages between natural resource science and policy-making in Mongolia.”

Dr. Jes Thompson facilitated a dynamic team of research scientists, climatologists and anthropologists through CSU to embark on this project. Along with the National Science Foundation, The Ford Foundation was a primary donor to the project, granting $1.4 million to the researchers’ cause.re-Jes Thompson

The team started in 2007 with 12 people; they began learning about the culture, laws and ideology of the region. Mongolia doesn’t have property laws, so the primary source of income for rural communities is through farming and raising livestock.

Mongolia has been experiencing a high and unusual amount of “dzuds” in the last decade. A dzud is a severe winter storm that completely wipes out all crops; they negatively impact the ability of livestock to find food, which leads to starvation and a reduction in the pastoral herds, if not total decimation. The economy of Mongolia has long been dependent on pastoral farming, and this recent rise of dzuds has created a trade- and food-related crisis in the country.

Thompson went on to say the team of researchers came with the goal of building trust within the existing communities so that they might work together better in terms of natural resource management.

Households involved in community-based resource management (CBRM) groups, formed during the team’s work in the region, had better access to community resources such as livestock and pasture management and information on preparatory action for dealing with severe weather. Households not participating in CBRM groups, however, are largely dealing with these challenges on their own.

“Resilience to climate change depends upon social capital and the community’s ability to discuss, negotiate and self-manage,” Thompson said. “If one can help a community with collaboration, they will be more socially agile. If they have a collective sense of trust and leadership they will be more able to withstand hardships.”

The team’s research and findings can be sought out on CSU’s website via the Forest and Rangeland Stewardship page at http://warnercnr.colostate.edu/mor2-results-and-publications.