Mongolia Table of Contents
Mongolia's vast forests (15 million hectares) are exploited for timber, hunting, and fur-bearing animals. In 1984 a Mongolian source stated that the forestry sector accounted for about onesixth of gross national product (GNP--see Glossary). Until December 1987, exploitation of these resources was supervised by the Forestry and Hunting Economy Section of the Ministry of Forestry and Woodworking. In that month this section was integrated into the new Ministry of Environmental Protection (see Major State Organizations , ch. 4). The woodworking component of the former ministry presumably became part of the new Ministry of Light Industry. The Ministry of Environmental Protection's assumption of control of forest resources reflected the government's concern over environmental degradation resulting from indiscriminate deforestation. Forestry enterprises reafforested only 5,000 hectares of the 20,000 hectares felled annually. In addition, fires engulfed 1 million hectares of forest between 1980 and 1986. Mongolia's shrinking forests lowered water levels in many tributaries of the Selenge and Orhon rivers, hurting soil conservation and creating water shortages in Ulaanbaatar.
Timber enterprises and their downstream industries made a sizable contribution to the Mongolian economy, accounting for 10 percent of gross industrial output in 1985. Approximately 2.5 million cubic meters of timber were cut annually. Fuel wood accounted for about 55 percent of the timber cut, and the remainder was processed by the woodworking industry. In 1986 Mongolia produced 627,000 cubic meters of sawn timber, of which 121,000 cubic meters was exported. Lumber also was exported; lumber exports declined dramatically from 104,000 cubic meters in 1984 to 85,700 cubic meters in 1985 and to 39,000 cubic meters in 1986.
Mongolia's forests and steppes abounded with animals that were hunted for their fur, meat, and other products in the late 1980s. Fur-bearing animals included marmots, muskrats, squirrels, foxes, korsak (steppe foxes), and wolves, which were hunted, and such animals as deer, sable, and ermine, which were raised on state animal farms. Animal pelts were exported in large numbers. In 1985 Mongolia exported more than 1 million small hides, which included some of the 763,400 marmot pelts, 23,800 squirrel skins, 3,700 wolf skins, and other furs. Marmot also was hunted for its fat, which was processed industrially. Mongolian gazelles were hunted for their meat, and red deer, for their antler velvet. Organized hunting of wild sheep was a foreign tourist attraction.
Data as of June 1989