Mongolian nomads have long known that the key to keeping their grasslands healthy is moving their herds and maintaining a proper ratio of goats to sheep. Goats eat grass roots, sheep do not. In order to keep native grasses on the plus side of regeneration, they have, for millennia, raised more sheep than goats. But it's the goats that produce cashmere.

In recent decades, Mongolia has expanded its global trade connections and the world's love of cashmere has put pressure on herders and their traditions. Fewer sheep and more cashmere-producing goats are being introduced into herds. The result is overgrazing; Mongolia Plateau grasslands are in danger of desertification.