Flora: Mongolia is located in the heart of Eastern Siberia-Central Asia featured with its extreme continental climate. Mongolian vegetation show characteristics developed over time due to regional conditions, environment and climate. Mongolia is the site of convergence and co-existence of flora which originates both from the Great Siberian Taiga and the Central Asian Steppe and Desert. In addition, Mongolian flora has gained plant species from China in the east and from the Kazakhstan Turan area in the west.
The gradual transition from the high mountain taiga through to the mountain forest steppe and flat grassy plains on to the semi-desert and true desert areas represents the features of the World's three basic types of vegetation regions. This variety is reflected in the change of precipitation and distribution of plants starting from the foot hills to the top of the mountain ranges.
There are six vegetation zones in Mongolia. These are high mountain zone; mountain taiga zone; mountain forest steppe zone; steppe zone; semi-desert steppe zone and desert zone. Located above tree line, the high mountain zone is characterized by tundra, alpine sedge meadows, highland swamps, and lichen-covered boulder fields. The mountain taiga zone is considerably rich in plants, although the edge of taiga zone is greatly affected by process turning to steppe. The mountain forest steppe zone exhibits the richest diversity of vegetation, representing an area of co-existence and convergence of forest and steppe vegetation. The steppe zone is predominated by herbaceous plants. In the semi-desert steppe zone vegetation is scare, but enough to feed animals. Herbaceous, shrubby and woody plants are found here. The desert zone is extremely scarcely vegetated due to lack of precipitation and dry hot winds. Plants are rather sparse. 497 species of plant are registered here; of it 108 are shrubby and woody plants, including elm and saxaul, xerophytic vegetation adapted to very dry conditions.
As recorded, there are 845 species of medicinal plants, over 1,000 species of fodder plants, 173 species of food plants, 64 species of technical plants, 489 species of ornamental plants and 195 species of all kinds of significant plants in Mongolia. At present, out of seeding varieties of plants available in Mongolia, 2095 species are herbaceous plants and 348 species are woody and shrubby plants. From the woody and shrubby plant varieties, 17 species are big trees, 40 species are short trees and shrubs, 146 species of shrub, 48 species of sub-shrubs, 91 species of partial sub-shrubs, 6 species of fodder and herbaceous, 1765 species of longevity plant, 330 species of annual and biennial vascular plant, 21 families of flat moss, 38 families of leafy moss, 53 families of lichen, 1236 species and sub-species of algae and 900 species of mushroom were registered. There are relics from prehistoric deserts, forests, tertiary lakes, savannahs and the Ice Age. Many plant relics are native to Mongolia. There are about 150 endemic vascular and lower plants such as Stipa mongolorum, Adonis mongolica, Betula mongolica, Atraphaxis bracteata, Calligonum gobicum, Nanophyton mongolicum, Gymnocarpus przewalskii, Silene mongolica, Potaninia mongolica, Chesneya mongolica, Astragalus gobicus, Oxytropis ulzii-chutagii and Armisia gobica.
More than 100 species of plant are included in the Mongolian Red Book as rare or endangered. This group includes 75 medicinal species, 11 for food, 16 species used in industry, 55 decorative species and 15 species used in the soil fixing process and in controlling pests.
Mongolia features a rich and diverse wildlife due to the varied natural conditions, the interior location, and the sparse human population. Mongolia has 136 mammal species, more than 400 different types of birds, 76 species of fish, 8 amphibians, 22 reptiles and numerous invertebrates. The central and northern forest area is home to wolf, wild boar, elk, roedeer and brown bear. Steppe and forest margins support marmot, muskrat, fox, steppe fox and sable. Western High Altai Mountain boasts a rich wildlife. Apart from common wolf and wild cats, such as lynx and snow leopard, the Altai mountain is home to the world's largest wild sheep-argali and Siberian ibex, grown rare in the world.
Species endemic to Central Asia are found primarily in the Gobi desert and steppe including the Mongolian subspecies of the saiga antelope, four species of jerboa and a vole. The Gobi desert and the eastern Mongolian steppe are inhabited by thousands of gazelles. The rarest animal in the world, the Gobi bear (Ursus pruinosis), is found in the south-western part of Gobi. Wild ass and wild camels (Camalus bactrianus) are abundantly found in the desert while argali and Gobi ibex (Capra sibirca) also inhabit the rocky mountains within the Gobi region. The last remaining true wild horse, Takhi known as Przewalski horse (named after the Russian explorer who first discovered the horse in 1878 in Mongolia), has been reintroduced to the country from captivity abroad after being unseen for about thirty years in the home country.
Bird life is rich and included the golden eagle, bearded vulture and other birds of prey, while the country's 2000 lakes are a magnet for water birds including storks and gulls. The east of Mongolia is famous for its bird's life, while vultures can be seen across the country. Rare species as the Altai snowcock and the mute swan are still observed in the countryside. More than 330 from 434 species of birds are migratory and the remaining 104 species inhabit Mongolia year-round. Approximately 50 species migrate through Mongolia and 20 species are observed here occasionally. The Mongolian Red Book contains a register of 30 bird species, which are not only rare in Mongolia.
Mongolia keeps attracting the interests of foreign travelers and biological specialists with its rich wildlife that has commercial importance. In 1996 Mongolia joined the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) approved in 1975 with aims to protect and regulate the use of animals and plants. The Law on the International Trading of Animal and Plants, and related items passed by the Mongolian Parliament is in line with its membership.