Bayankhongor is one of the 21 regions of Mongolia located 630 km southwest of the capital Ulaanbaatar (UB). The herders grouped under Sustainable Cashmere Union (SCU) are located in 7 departments: Bogd, Jinst, Bumbugur, Baatsagaan, Shinejinst, Bayan-Undur et Bayantsagaan. The Capra Hircus adapted to mountainous areas and resistant to extreme weather conditions, via its down, populates this place. Bayankhongor is especially famous for its white-haired goat breed, the well-named Zalaa Jinst.

This vast territory is composed of various ecosystems including the Gobi Desert and the valley of endoreic lakes in its southern part extending to the Khangai mountain range in the north. The climate is continental arid, with large temperature ranges between winter and summer (-30°C to +30°C), strong spring winds and low annual rainfall (<93mm/year).

The geological nature of each area also has an impact on the possibility of exploitation. The breeders’ acute knowledge of the territory and its assets allows them to adjust the animals’ needs to the geographical and temporal availability of the environment’s resources at each season. They frequently move around in search of the greatest availability of fodder, water points, etc. The breeders, through the cooperatives, have adapted to a changing pastoral system in a context of economic transition and ecological fragility.

During the summer period the total rainfall is more important than during the other seasons but the quantity remains low. Violent thunderstorms, increased wind and temperature increase favor erosion and the formation of gullies. In winter, the herders access their fixed camp to protect themselves from bad weather, buy fodder to avoid calorie losses for the animals.
In addition, climatic disturbances, overgrazing and repeated episodes of drought have a direct impact on the soil, making it impossible for vegetation to take root, which is easily uprooted and transported by strong winds.

The desert steppe is composed mainly of alliaceae – genus allium – and grasses – genus stipa – consumed by the 5 muskets (yak, camel, horse, goat and sheep). These plants are dried in autumn and given in spring because of their high nutritional value. They represent a xerophytic character. There are also different species of artemesia including artemesia admasii which is the marker of degradation of the rangelands and illustrates the phenomenon of overgrazing especially on the high plateaus.
Cargana, reaumuria songirica, nitriaria sibrica and saxaul; semi-shrubby plants that promote the formation of a small mound of sand at their foot and play a fundamental role in the fixation of the substrate and the fight against desertification and silting.

Cashmere is a luxurious material, but it has become more democratic since the country entered the market economy in 1991. The increase in the price of this golden fleece has led to an increase in the number of goats in the region, which now represents 85% of the livestock. This situation favors overgrazing, amplifying the phenomenon of desertification and its irreversible consequences on the ecosystems, such as the advance of the desert each year. Today, this luxury fiber represents 80% of the income of the breeders.