The Green Corridor Plan (1975): Nomads No More?

Mongolians have had a long tradition of herding since the 16th century. Their pastoral life under harsh conditions had trained their resilience that are core qualities to the Mongolian nomadic culture[1].

The nomadic culture was challenged in the early 1900s by the stepping in of Russian power onto Mongolian grounds who instilled urbanization ideals into the informally settled empire and largely influenced its current urban form[2]. Three main challenges to the nomadic culture are observed as follows:

  • Shift in mode of industry – from herding to industrialization: Mongolians were historically cattle herders that moved all year round to new grazing grounds[3]. Due to large changes in the environment leading to bad climate conditions, the primary industry of herding became unstable which caused herders to settle down in search of other ways to make a living[4]. Job opportunities especially from industrial areas became a popular alternative that attracted Mongolians to settle in the urban city.
  • Shift in mode of living – from ger to apartments: Gers are seasonally adaptive large circular white tents that are the traditional homes for the nomadic herders[5]. As they are intended to be transportable, gers lack basic infrastructure of heating and sewage[6]. The introduction of apartments made up for the devoid which attracted Mongolians to give up their gers in the countryside and move into the city for a better living environment.
  • Changes in urban fabric – from nomadic to settled: The above shifts were prevalent in master plans of Ulaanbaatar (Green Corridor Plan (1975)/Historical Plans of Ulaanbaatar (1911-1998)) as permanent residential and industrial zones were increasingly developed, transforming the urban fabric of Ulaanbaatar from prior scattered and informal settlements to a permanent urban city (Fig. 1 and Fig.2). This indicates an overall shift from a nomadic lifestyle to an urban lifestyle of the Mongols.

The Green Corridor Plan (1975) illustrated the settling of Ulaanbaatar as an urban city centre that responded to rapid influx of people. This implied the decreasing number of Mongolians that continue to live a nomadic lifestyle, raising attention to the fact that their nomadic origins are being challenged as less people will be able to experience and pass on the nomadic tradition and culture.

Fig. 1: Ger settlements in the 18th century (Source: Всемирная иллюстрация : журнал. — 1891. — Т. 46. — № 1178. — С. 132—133.)

 

Fig, 2: Urbanization in Ulaanbaatar in the 1960s (Source: “These Cities Have Gone Through Incredible Transformations Over The Years (50 Pics) – Today News,” , accessed December 19, 2018, http://t0daynewz.blogspot.com/2015/05/these-cities-have-gone-through.html.)

[1]Mongolian Nomadic Life,” Mongolia Culture, the Mongolian Art, Food & Traditions. Retrieve the Main Festivals in Mongolia on Our Website: Naadam & Tsagaan Sar, accessed December 19, 2018, http://www.e-mongol.com/mongolia_nomadiclife.htm.

[2] Morris Rossabi, Modern Mongolia: From Khans to Commissars to Capitalists, Regents of the University of California (USA: University of California Press, 2005), 31.

[3] Tseregmaa Byambadorj, Marco Amati, and Kristian J. Ruming, “Twenty-first Century Nomadic City: Ger Districts and Barriers to the Implementation of the Ulaanbaatar City Master Plan“, (August 2011): 2.

[4] Jennifer L. Hanson, Nations in Transition: Mongolia (USA: Facts On File, 2004), 79.

[5] Ibid, 79.

[6] Badamdorj, Changes. 2.

References:

Byambadorj, Tseregmaa, Marco Amati, and Kristian J. Ruming. “Twenty-first Century Nomadic City: Ger Districts and Barriers to the Implementation of the Ulaanbaatar City Master Plan.” Asia Pacific Viewpoint 52, no. 2 (August 2011): 165-77.

Hanson, Jennifer L. Nations in Transition: Mongolia. USA: Facts On File, 2004.

“Mongolian Nomadic Life.” Mongolia Culture, the Mongolian Art, Food & Traditions. Retrieve the Main Festivals in Mongolia on Our Website: Naadam & Tsagaan Sar. Accessed December 19, 2018. http://www.e-mongol.com/mongolia_nomadiclife.htm.

Rossabi, Morris. Modern Mongolia: From Khans to Commissars to Capitalists. Regents of the University of California. USA: University of California Press, 2005.

“These Cities Have Gone Through Incredible Transformations Over The Years (50 Pics) – Today News.” Accessed December 19, 2018. http://t0daynewz.blogspot.com/2015/05/these-cities-have-gone-through.html.

Всемирная иллюстрация : журнал. — 1891. — Т. 46. — № 1178. — С. 132—133.

1 Comment on “The Green Corridor Plan (1975): Nomads No More?

  1. I understand the Green Corridor Plan as the government’s response to the densification of Ulaanbaatar. However, I wonder if Ulaanbaatar government took any measures in preserving nomadic culture and traditions, or it actually allows a natural decline in nomadic culture under urbanisation and globalisation. Urbanisation is obviously inevitable but I think it is also important for a city to remember and treasure its traditions.

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