Project lists

22. Monitoring forest cover change in Mongolia with participatory approach
20 Mar 2022     


Mongolia is an inland economy, with its terrain mainly comprised of mountains and deserts. The physical settings lead to a dry climate, and subsequently being especially vulnerable to the impact of global warming. The majority of the forest in Mongolia is deteriorating due to human activities, causing degradation of the ecosystem as a whole. Therefore, the contribution of intact forests to ecosystem functioning is immensely important.


An inventory of forest resources of Mongolia due to the amendment to the Forest Law in May 2012 didn’t result in accurate data for forest cover; in addition, all of the forest cover maps lacked complete remote sensing data. Hence, in order to conduct effective forest management, the lacking satellite data had to be obtained. The acquisition of a complete dataset should also include information on biophysical parameters, socio-economic data, and development plans/economic policy, supported with accurate spatial analysis.


An unprecedented methodology of using high-resolution satellite data for sustainable forest management

In order to enable Mongolian decision makers to plan strategically, this project aims to produce forest cover maps by retrieving scientifically reliable data from high-resolution satellites. All technologies have proven to be accurate and comprehensive for spatial analysis, which are ideal for producing maps of forest type and forest change. Digital mapping based on GIS drove the advance of Remote Sensing use in the Mongolian forestry sector. The project resulted in the publication of one manual, three books, and a TV program.


MODIS and Landsat detected the Mongolian forest cover change from 2000 to 2014.

Forest cover change detection starts with data retrieval from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectro radiometer (MODIS) and Landsat satellite data. The two high-resolution satellite datasets provided complimentary measurements in large-scale global dynamics occurring on the Earth surface which carry millions of images that are easy to present and download the information. The two technologies therefore assisted the digital mapping of forest cover change in Mongolia from 2000 to 2014 (Figure 1), which detected a decreasing trend of Mongolian forest cover and will be valuable in the future, as it provides an information base to conduct reforestation and mitigate desertification.


This renewed assessment of forest cover change from 2000 to 2014 is expected to make a tangible contribution to the strategic planning of forest management after its implementation. It also has ecological and economic significance, as both the Ministry of Green Development and Tourism (MEGDT) of Mongolia, as well as APFNet can use the data for their respective interests.


The project research results indicate that the forest cover area in the forest steppe is 9,480,923.23 ha. It has been decreasing in the past 15 years. In all provinces wherever infrastructure is being developed forested areas are continuously decreasing, which means those areas need to monitored more closely. In particular, Dornod and Khentii province’s steppe forest decreased so fast that reforestation and desertification control are urgently needed. In this regard, assisted natural reforestation is deemed as an economically and ecologically effective approach for forest reforestation in these areas. The forest area in the northern permafrost may increase due to global warming. Increased area usually occurs on the boundary of the forest and decreased area in its deepest parts.

KOMPSAT and SPOT satellites mapped out two communities’ forest types of 2015 and 2016.

The project selected two pilot sites in Bulgan aimag, one in the “Khanbuyan community” and the other one in “Buuraldomuu community” to try out this new method.


The Korea Multi-Purpose Satellite (KOMPSAT) and SPOT high-resolution satellite, comparing to Modis and Landsat, have a higher resolution for the detection of more accurate information in a smaller scale, which is especially helpful for capturing the compositions of forest types in the two communities. This methodology also indicated landscapes where wildfires frequently occur. As forest types could be detected accurately from the satellite images, they can be used as the foundation of local forest management plans.

Both productions are milestones for forestry management and research in the Mongolian history. This project was linked to the United Nations Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UNREDD), and Mongolia became a UN-REDD Partner Country.



- To monitor forest cover change from 2000 to 2014;

- To determine forest cover of Mongolia of 2014 and assess the accuracy of the result;

- To map the forest cover/type of the selected two forest communities based on the data of 2015;

To strengthen strategic forest management plans for pilot communities.

Expected outputs:

- Valid and accurate dataset of quantified forest cover of Mongolia;

- Digital maps of aggregated forest cover information and forest types of pilot community forests;

- Improvements of human capacity, technical devices, organizational administration, and the forest management plans of the two pilot communities;

Promotion of public awareness through media (TV programs, publications, etc.).






Project title: Monitoring forest cover change in Mongolia with participatory approach [project ID: 2015P5-MN]

Supervisory agency: Ministry of Environment, Green Development and Tourism (MEGDT) of Mongolia

Executing agency: Environmental Research, Information and Study Center (ERISC)

Implementing agency(ies): 

(a) “NUM-ITC-UNESCO” Space Science/Remote Sensing International Laboratory, National University of Mongolia (NUM)

(b) Forest communities of “Khanbuyan” and “Buuraldomuu”, of Bulgan province of Mongolia

Budget in USD (total / APFNet grant): 108,772/83,372

Kick-off date & duration: February 2016, 02/2016-02/2017

Target area(s): Forest communities of “Khanbuyan”, “Buuraldomuu” of Bulgan province, Mongolia


EA: Environmental Research, Information and Study Center (ERISC)

Dr. Ariunzul Ya ( 

APFNet: Long Chao (,  Sun Weina (