Environmental problems facing Mongolia include desertification, inadequate water supply, and air and water pollution. The presence of the Gobi Desert in the southeastern part of the country and mountains in the northwest provide natural limits to the amount of agricultural land. Areas affected by deforestation and excessive grazing are eventually overtaken by the desert.
Water pollution is a particularly significant problem in Mongolia because the water supply is so limited. The country has only 34.8 cubic kilometers of renewable water resources, 53% of which are used for farming. In 2000, only 77% of city dwellers and 30% of the people living in rural areas had access to pure water.
The country's air pollution problems are due to increased industrial activity within the country, including the burning of soft coal, and airborne industrial pollution from the former Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. The heavy concentration of factories in Ulaanbaatar has polluted the environment in that area.
Przewalski's horse, the Bactrian camel, the snow leopard, and the saiga are among 12 mammals and 14 birds which are considered endangered. The Mongolian wild horse has become extinct in the wild.
After a winter of little snow, wildfires spread across northern Mongolia from March until June of 1996. The fires were the most extensive since records were first compiled in 1978, resulting in 26 deaths and nearly 800 people injured or rendered shelterless. An estimated 20% of Mongolia's coniferous forest was damaged in the blaze.