Prevent desecration of pristine Altai habitats

by Altai Mir University
Sep 20, 2010

Most lands registered, some still in court

The Indigenous people of the remote Altai Republic in southern Siberia are the traditional stewards of a Shangi-la land with a rare and precious ecosystem. Two years ago, it looked like the natives would lose their ancestral lands to outside developers out to exploit the pristine mountain wilderness and green river valleys. Not only was there no mechanism for natives to claim their lands, but also they were not organized to press for ownership because "ownership" of land is simply undefined in the Altai culture -- they couldn't imagine it! I attach a link to a slideshow of the land and culture of Altai.

Thanks to your donation as part of a very successful fund-raising effort through, the villagers in two especially at-risk districts were jolted awake at the last moment by the international concern expressed by all the donations! In both districts, the most critical lands were gathered into collectives and surveyed as required. Then lawsuits were filed, successfully, to force the government to register the surveyed lands.

However, some of the most valuable lands are still tied up in court because of the way the registration system was originally set up 20 years ago when Russia began the process of privatize the land (and everything else). Lands were not allocated individually but by clan group. Within each clan group, it was pretty well understood informally who used what land, but this was not part of the privatization system. According to the system, whoever registered first got to choose the land they wanted.

Unscrupulous realtors preyed on the weak members of each clan -- the sick, the elderly, the alcoholics -- and got them to sign over their share of 12 hectares (30 acres) for a few dollars per acre (land that is now, a year later, being sold for $10,000 per acre). The realtors then claimed the best lands, and the lands with water access from each clan.

Because the local people pulled together to survey and register their lands, a significant portion of your donations remained and is funding the legal process of retrieving these "lost" lands. Efforts have thus far been successful. I'll keep you posted as the process continues.



About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Altai Mir University

Location: Shoreline, WA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Carol Hiltner
Seattle, WA United States

Funded Project!

Thanks to 372 donors like you, a total of $35,795 was raised for this project on GlobalGiving. Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

Still want to help?

Support another project run by Altai Mir University that needs your help, such as:

Find a Project

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence


Woman Holding a Gift Card
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.