United States and Mongolia Establish “Sister National Parks”

The U.S. Embassy congratulates America’s Yosemite National Park and the Mongolian Ministry of Environment, Green Development, and Tourism (MEGDT) on the signing of a sister parks agreement. U.S. Ambassador Piper Campbell and Vice Governor of Hovsgol Aimag Ch. Ochirkhuyag spoke at the July 18 signing ceremony, held at a picturesque venue in the foothills of Mongolia’s Horidal-Saridag mountains. They described the creation of the sister park relationship as an opportunity for U.S.-Mongolia collaboration in natural resource management, healthy habitat creation, biodiversity, and environmental education.

At the ceremony, Tom Medema, Chief of Interpretation and Education at Yosemite National Park, signed the agreement on behalf of the United States. Director J. Tumursukh, of the Ulaan Taiga Administration, and Director L. Davaabayar, of Lake Hovsgol National Park, signed the agreement for Mongolia. Yosemite also maintains sister parks relations with the governments of Chile, China, and Germany. This newest of Yosemite’s agreements involves four Mongolian wilderness areas: Lake Hovsgol National Park and Ulaan Taiga National park as well as the adjoining Tengis Shishged and Horidol Saridag “protected areas.”

MEGDT’s Department of Protected Areas Management was founded in 2012. Its mission includes the preservation of Mongolian national and cultural heritage through conservation of its parks and protected lands. The Mongol Ecology Center, a Mongolia-based NGO, has worked with this department since 2011 and played a key role in facilitating the relationship between American and Mongolian officials.

Yosemite National Park, the oldest of the U.S. national parks, was established in 1890 and celebrates its 125th anniversary this year. The Mongolian government established Lake Hovsgol National Park in 1992. Lake Hovsgol contains 70% of Mongolia’s surface freshwater (about 1% of global total freshwater). In 2014, there were approximately 80,000 visitors. During this year’s summertime Naadam festival, there were more than 40,000 visitors over five days.