Mongolia: A Cashmere Story


As the title suggests, this is a story about cashmere. More specifically this a story about the dilemma faced by nomadic herders caught between their reliance on cashmere and the impacts of climate change and overgrazing on the fragile grasslands of Mongolia.

Three herders from the North Gobi region of Bayankhongor Province narrate the changes to their environment they have witnessed, how global demand and volatile cashmere prices have changed herding practices and what they think has to be done to ensure their income and environment.

This video was commissioned by Humus – Fonds pour la Biodiversité, a French organisation that funds projects in the field of environmental conservation and sustainable livelihoods. French NGO, Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières (AVSF) provided the technical support and guidance. This video was an useful advocacy communication tool to help AVSF secure project funding from the European Union and other donors to implement a sustainable cashmere project in Mongolia.

Apart from a Vimeo staff pick, this video was also selected for special screening at the UN Green Film Festival in 2014 and was also screened during a conference on sustainable cashmere and the fashion industry’s involvement at the Burberry HQ in London in 2016.

Apart from this documentary, I have also written about how global demand for cashmere, issues of overgrazing and climate change have impacted traditional herding practices and livelihoods of herder in Mongolia.

EurasiaNet.org: Herders Caught Between Cashmere and Climate Change

“Batogoo Dorj is a nomad in southern Mongolia’s Bayankhongor Region who makes his living raising cashmere goats. Each spring, Dorj can shear about 300 grams of the valuable, downy wool from each of his 350 goats. Those voracious and sharp-hoofed animals are contributing to the desertification and climate change that is reducing Mongolia’s available grazing land. Yet for Dorj and thousands like him in Mongolia, short-term necessity is eclipsing long-term sustainability.” Click here to read the full article.

I also returned to Mongolia in 2016 to report on the issues surrounding cashmere production, climate change and field work being done by AVSF to make cashmere production more sustainable in a feature report for Al Jazeera.