About Us

About Us

We protect nature and strengthen communities in Altai by facilitating our partners’ efforts to strengthen conservation and biodiversity protection, manage tourism sustainably, and strengthen the traditional lifeways and traditional knowledge of Altai’s indigenous peoples.

Through direct support, technology grants, expert consultants, and periodic exchanges with specific nonprofit organizations, indigenous groups, and protected areas administrations, we strengthen conservation enforcement, wildlife research (snow leopards, raptors, Altai argali sheep), sustainable ecotourism development, protection of sacred lands and traditional lifeways, and the promotion of renewable energy.

Throughout our work in the Altai, we engage with indigenous peoples. Not only do we support their efforts to manage their traditional natural territories, we believe they hold a key to living in balance with nature—a key that must not be lost. Protection of sacred lands and strengthening traditional knowledge are also priorities.

In collaboration with other international nonprofits, we support and participate in activism to prevent or mitigate potentially destructive development projects such as the proposed Altai gas pipeline to China across the fragile Ukok Plateau and the proposed Karakul cobalt mine. Our partners are trusted small Altai-based grassroots groups that volunteer considerable time and energy toward such causes.

Photo by Amy Rhodes. Deploying a camera trap
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Why Altai?

The Greater Altai Ecoregion is of global importance. Within that system, Russia’s Altai Republic is linked with Kazakhstan, China, and Mongolia.

Complex structure for a strawbale at Bobrovka

Our History

Throughout 17+ years of its existence, The Altai Project has constantly refined and adjusted its work to protect nature and strengthen communities in Altai.

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Meet The Director

Jennifer Castner, the director of The Altai Project, is fluent in Russian and has traveled extensively in Siberia, the Russian Far East, Ukraine and Europe.

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We are a project of Earth Island Institute (EII). Their mission: Life on earth is imperiled by human degradation of the biosphere.

Earth Island Institute develops and supports projects that counteract threats to the biological and cultural diversity that sustain the environment. Through education and activism, these projects promote the conservation, preservation, and restoration of the Earth.

EII was founded in 1982 by veteran environmentalist David Brower. They foster the efforts of creative individuals by providing organizational support in developing projects for the conservation, preservation, and restoration of the global environment. EII provides activists the freedom to develop program ideas, supported by services to help them pursue those ideas, with a minimum of bureaucracy.

Earth Island's Project Network consists of more than 30 projects worldwide (see the Project Directory for program and contact information).

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