Our History

Throughout the 20 years of its existence, The Altai Project has constantly refined and adjusted its work to protect nature and strengthen communities in Greater Altai, adapting as the frontline needs change.

The Altai Project began as a program at Sacred Earth Network in the late 1990s. In the early years, we donated much-needed technology and made small project-based grants to fledgling activists, protected areas’ staff, and NGOs throughout Altai, Russia. In 2004, we narrowed our focus from Russia-wide environmental assistance to concentrate on this one unique region and moved operations to the Center for Safe Energy (also an EII project), where we remained until 2006.

During the mid-2000s, the organization devoted much of its time to supporting green-building, energy conservation, and renewable and alternative energy technologies. In January 2007, we became a full-fledged member of Earth Island Institute. Throughout this time, we also facilitated international collaborations and participated in campaigns addressing specific threats in Altai, such as the now tabled Altai gas pipeline, the defeated Katun hydroelectric dam, and other risky resource development projects.

Between 2009 and 2015, TAP focused its efforts on snow leopard and raptor conservation and research in Altai Republic (with a special focus on anti-poaching activities), supporting campaigns to reroute the proposed Power of Siberia 2 "Altai" Pipeline away from the Ukok Plateau and promote transparency and rule-of-law in mining projects, and providing small grants to long-term partners in Altai to support nature conservation and Altaian indigenous lifeways and practices.

Given recent political challenges within Russia and internationally as well as new opportunities in the larger region, in 2017 we broadened our scope to include all of Greater Altai - western Mongolia, eastern Kazakhstan, and northwest China - as well as offering partnerships across Russia's Siberia and the Far East. We continue our traditional environmental advocacy and wildlife conservation work and are growing our partnerships with indigenous-led initiatives, organizations, and coalitions.

Chaga-Bayram Altaian winter new year ceremony (Photo by M. Erlenbaeva)
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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.

Altai Alliance 2011

Altai Alliance

In 2008, the Altai Project and over twenty US nonprofits, individuals, and donors formed an international alliance to protect Russia’s Altai region.


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.

Key Accomplishments

Building the first two strawbale buildings in Altai in '06 and '08

Direct financial support to Altai nature protection, indigenous organizations, and protected areas

Introduced the concept of Leave No Trace in Altai, providing ongoing trainings and support for its implementation

Helping to reduce poaching and trade in snow leopard, argali mountain sheep, roe deer, and other endangered species

Donation of computers, microhydro technology, solar panels, and communications equipment to Altai's protected areas to meet basic needs

Training Altai residents, educators, and nonprofit leaders in sustainable living technologies including renewable energy, natural building, waste reduction, and energy efficient design; and donating equipment and tools for accomplishing the transition to sustainability

Establishing and providing ongoing coordination for the Altai Alliance, a loose coalition of American NGOs and individuals committed to supporting Altaian communities and protecting Altaian nature

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