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A 3-month bird survey, covering the spring 2022 migration season was awarded to Sustainability East Asia by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The survey aim is to assess potential impacts for the proposed Sainshand-Tsagaan Suvarga Transmission Line located in the eastern Gobi Desert of Mongolia.

An Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) is required by the EBRD for consideration of a sovereign loan to the Government of Mongolia. The loan is to finance a 214-kilometre double circuit 220kv overhead power line between the Sainshand and Tsagaan Suvarga towns. The ESIA scope encompasses ornithological surveys for 12 months inclusive of an avifauna baseline survey to establish baseline conditions of the bird species in the project area.

The target species of this study include bird species with higher conservation status such as the threatened species (Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable) included in the IUCN and Mongolian Red Lists or species with significant concerns by other stakeholders, or other species vulnerable to potential impacts from power lines.

Working with the Wildlife Science and Conservation Center of Mongolia, the survey was conducted from March through May this year, to increase chances of recording the highest variety of species and groups of birds during migration to Mongolia.

During the spring survey 128 species of birds, belonging to 14 orders and 29 families were observed. Ninety species were passage migrants, 22 species were resident breeders, and 14 species were breeding visitors and other species.

The majority of the species (91%) recorded during the spring survey have low conservation priorities according to the Regional and Global Red List status. Some of the IUCN Red List species observed included Swan Goose (Anser cygnoides), Common Pochard (Aythya farina), Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis) and Saker Falcon (Falcon cherrug).

Sustainability East Asia has been providing environmental, social and safety services in Mongolia since 2002 and supporting EBRD projects since 2008.