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Session 5: Integrating GIS and community mapping to develop a project preserving tangible and intangible cultural expressions and empowering communities

Mr. Nortov Urtnasan, General-Secretary of the Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO, presented a case study on the reindeer herders in the area of Lake Khovsgol (Mongolia) followed by an interactive discussion about the study and development of possible strategies by the working groups. The Lake Khovsgol site is currently prepared for its nomination to the World Natural Heritage Site


The case is about the local reindeer-herders Darkhad and Tsaatan who have suffered cultural and socio-economic difficulties. Due to government policies, modernization, tourism, depletion of natural resources and other factors, traditional knowledge is disappearing (dying shamans), the reindeer people lack access to education and health services, and indigenous means of livelihood is disappearing. Although both groups have safeguarded their respective distinct languages, traditional clothing, rituals, and oral heritage, it is only a question of time before these endangered minority groups (especially the Tsaatan group who is one of the smallest and most culturally endangered) disappear. It is critical to address the issues of protecting the natural landscape of the Khovsgol region where the Tsaatan reindeer people evolve and depend upon and documenting their oral traditions and cultural heritage.


During the working session on developing a preservation strategy for Lake Khovsgol, various suggestions and recommendations came up such as delineating their area, setting up an intergenerational dialogue, defining the pressing threats to their cultural survival, and cultural mapping involving the locals.