Khuvsgul Lake in Mongolia added to UNESCO Biosphere Reserves
Mongolia’s ancient Khuvsgul Lake holds almost seventy percent of the country’s freshwater supply
At the 34th session of the International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere Program held recently in Paris, France, the decision was taken to add Lake Khuvsgul in Mongolia to the list of the Global Network UNESCO biosphere reserves.
UNESCO created the Man and the Biosphere Program as an intergovernmental scientific program in the early 1970s to establish a scientific basis for improving the relationship between people and their environment.
Located in Khuvsgul Province in northern Mongolia at the foot of the Eastern Sayan Mountains near the border with Russia, the lake is known to hold almost 70% of the country’s fresh water and 0.4 % of world total. It is the largest freshwater lake in Mongolia by volume and the second largest by area – after Lake Baikal, its twin lake. Located 1,645 meters above sea level, 136 kilometers long and 262 meters deep, it is considered the “little sister” of the two lakes and revered in a country where arid conditions make most lakes salty.
Over two million years old, Khuvsgul is one of the 17 ancient lakes in the world and is known to be pristine. this is where most of Mongolia’s drinking water comes from – the water is considered safe to drink without treatment. The lake is home to fish species such as endemic and endangered Hovsgol grayling as well as Eurasian perch, burbot and lenok.
The location of the lake in northern Mongolia forms part of the southern border of the Great Siberian Taiga Forest, where the dominant tree is Siberian Larch (Larix sibirica), and it is surrounded by several mountain ranges . The national park that encompasses the lake is protected as a transition zone with the Siberian taiga and the Central Asian steppe, and cocoons wildlife such as ibex, sable, argali, brown bear, elk, wolf, musk deer, wolverine and Siberian moose.
Established in 1997, the Hövsgöl (Khövsgöl) Long-Term Ecological Research Site (LTERS) provides a platform to maintain the country’s scientific and environmental infrastructure, study climate change, and develop sustainable responses to the lake’s environmental challenges.
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