Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mongolian herds

The overgrazing of pasture in Mongolia (Treasure of the Gobi desert, G2, 21 April) was not brought about by the removal of the Soviet restraint on herd size but by Mongolia following the proposals of the IMF and World Bank.

In 1990, Mongolia had a reasonable industrial base, but after the break-up of the Soviet empire, it got the usual advice from those international financiers: concentrate on areas of comparative advantage, embrace free trade, remove the barriers, and all will be well. In four years the industrial base was reduced by 90%, creating mass unemployment. People returned to the only other thing they knew: herding. The number of animals grew unsustainably, leading to environmental destruction.

Your article indicated that at current rates mining will last 100 years. What happens then? Extraction at this rate will only benefit the mining companies. Mongolia should follow the example of Norway in its husbanding of resources.

Michael McLoughlin
Wallington, Surrey

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