The important socio-ecological services provided by forests of Mongolia are being compromised by failed forest management policies that are associated with inadequate problem definition, failure to consider the forest as a social-ecological system and climate change as well as poor governance. In this paper we describe the current forest management scheme of Mongolia, identify its key failings and propose several fundamental changes to that provide promising opportunities to improve current methods. The suggestions consist of recognizing that forest management is a wicked problem which provides a more realistic framework for addressing the numerous systems and challenges involved in forest management. Also, forest management techniques should use an ecosystem stewardship process that recognizes not only the numerous systems that exist in a forest but also the dynamic nature of forest ecosystems. In addition, utilizing Elinor Ostrom’s principles for governing common pool resources, including those elements of her principles that are often neglected such as the important role of governing mandates, provide additional ways to improve forest management. We believe that such reframing of Mongolia’s forest management policies will lead to management practices that are better suited towards halting the decline of Mongolia’s forests, yield a more effective and flexible forest management approach that will help address climate change challenges such as desertification while also allowing for enhanced forest productivity with commensurate contributions to the livelihoods of Mongolians.
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