Mongol Ecology Center (MEC) is working to establish the Lake Hovsgol Conservancy to help implement the vision established for Lake Hovsgol National Park.
THE VISION STATEMENT: The pristine, diverse natural, historical and cultural and scenic resources that embody the spiritual values of the Mother Sea and the Father Munkh-Saridag Mountains, and nomadic traditions and folklore they support, will be conserved forever through long-term preservation fully integrated with sustainable economic development.
Working with the Park administration, local governments and commercial service providers the Conservancy will seek to strengthen their capacity to implement the Lake Hovsgol National Park Management Plan; to increase the capacity of the protected area administration to collaborate with local nomadic families, local soums, and the buffer zone councils; and to increase the quality of visitor services within the protected area and the local communities. By accomplishing these goals Lake Hovsgol National Park will be recognized globally as the Crown Jewel of Mongolia, a place for quality tourism and recreation experiences and a place where the local economy will prosper from the creation of new jobs occupied by trained and experienced local residents.
Lake Hovsgol National Park is at a critical turning point. Since establishment in 1992 access to the Mother Sea has been over unimproved dirt roads to the village of Hatgal at the southern tip of the lake. Access to the lake across the Russian border at Hankh has been limited to Russian citizens. Despite such difficult access, the number of ger camps around the lake has increased. Additional ger camps and guesthouses are being constructed in Hatgal and Hankh, and applications for more ger camps in the Park are pending. The protected area administration reports domestic visits to the park increased from some 14,000 in 2010 to 20,000 in 2011. International visits remained steady at approximately 4,000 a year over that same period.
Access to the Park is about to change dramatically in 2013 when major new improvements to the transportation network are completed. A new paved road between Hatgal and Moron will be completed, the unused Hatgal Airport runway will be rehabilitated, and the Mongolian – Russian border at Hankh will open to all international travelers. This new border crossing will bring the park within three hours drive of the Trans Siberian Railroad and within 5 hours to the international airport in Irkutsk, Russia. The difficulty of accessing the park will ease and visits to the area will increase dramatically. Longer term, a new road is planned from Hatgal to Hankh; current discussion suggests that this route will be built along the west side of Lake Hovsgol. This new Hatgal – Hankh road will provide quick and easy movement between Hatgal and Hankh and will open the possibility of an east-west road to connect Lake Hovsgol to the Darkhad Valley and Renchinlkhumbe soum. With much expanded access, the tourist interest in the new protected areas on the north and west side of the Darkhad Valley will also explode. While it is not possible to estimate the future number of park visitors, experienced staff predict that it may approach four times the current levels. It is clear that the Park and the surrounding communities are not prepared to accommodate this new influx of visitors. Assistance and expertise provided by the Lake Hovsgol Conservancy, through its fund raising capacity and its access to international experts, can promote and guide sound resource management and quality visitor services within the Park and its adjacent communities.