It is worth explaining once more – what is the main difference of Econet – from the traditional network of protected areas. When the scheme of Econet is developed, it practically doesn’t include expansion of the area of zapovedniks – territories, completely withdrawn from the economical use. Some exceptions can be possible for comparatively small-scale territories, especially valuable from the point of view of biodiversity conservation.
Their strict protection is very important on it’s own and – not less important – they ensure normal existence and development of the surrounding territories, which means – possibility of full-value economic use of the surrounding territories. One of the vivid examples of that – necessity of strict protection of the forests of upper reaches of mountain river valleys. They ensure water accumulation and even distribution of water resources for all downstream part of the river valley – which supplies the growth of grasses on the lowland pastures, watering of fields and gardens, and so on. Destruction of these forests lead to water floods after rains and showers, which destruct fields, gardens and villages in valleys and mountain foothills. And further on droughts occur (water is already gone!). There can be lots of similar examples – and it is very important to understand, that withdrawal of some territory from the economic usage is not a end of itself of the nature conservation – but a method and a tool to keep huge territories developing in an optimal regime. In a lot of cases this goal can be reached without a complete withdrawal of the territory from the economic usage – but by the way of regulating the regime of use, changing some resource -exhausting forms for more sustainable ones. As a result the income from resource use can even increase. It can be a mosaic of different crops – interchange of gardens, fodder crops, etc. It can be introduction (renewal!) of distant-pasture sheep breeding – traditional form for Turkmenistan, to a great extent lost in the Soviet times. And the number of sheep in the flocks can be many times more – up to 10 times! – with a distant-pasture sheep breeding - while pastures are not exhausted – they have time “to rest” – and to recover.
A very important component of econet should be national (nature) parks. These are protected territories, the major part of which is open for visitors – organized and regulated, for sure – which allows deep involvement of local population into the nature conservation together with new forms of economical development, creates new working places, supports ecological education, etc. For many countries of the world the income, received from ecological tourism is one of the important parts of the country’s budget, as well as the family income of the local population. And it is difficult to overestimate the nature potential of Central Asia – it is really great and unique. And in combination with traditional benevolence and kindness of local people, with possibility to show extraordinary beautiful handicrafts, very tasty – and exotic for foreigners – cuisine – this form of development can appear to be really very promissing.
Econet is developed as a regional network. The main reason for that is that nature conservation and ecosystem development problems of some transboundary territories can’t by solved by any of the bordering countries alone. Vivid examples of that – Amudaria river valley, which secures common coordinated actions of all bordering countries. Another example – Ustyurt – where winter migrations of saiga to the south, and spring migrations back to the north – can be affected and disrupted by the border engineering systems – in case that needs of passages for saiga won’t be initially envisaged, planned, adjusted and built.
A Regional scheme of protected areas system, including ecological corridors and buffer zones, is designed basing on biodiversity database, socio-economic background and satellite images analysis (using special original method, worked out with the support of WWF-Russia and successfully tested in numerous Russian ecoregions). We work in deep cooperation with the relevant Ministries and scientific institutions of the countries.
According to the decision of Interregional Sustainable Development Commission (ISDC), Econet (when finally designed) is supposed to be approved by all relevant Ministries of the countries of the region on national level, and by ISDC – on the regional level. It is integrated into the Regional Environmental Action Plan (REAP) as a major component which ensures biodiversity conservation, and this allows to integrate the biodiversity conservation in the contest of socio-economic development of the region. It’s clear, that no country has resources to implement the full scale Econet immediately. But endorsement of the Econet scheme and its’ use as a base for the process of land reservation for future development (which is on-going in some countries of the region now) will guarantee future possibility of conservation of unique biodiversity of the region. It is well recognised, that development of schemes of Ecoregional Ecological Networks is a great opportunity to ensure implementation of CBD PoW at national and regional levels.
All databases , GIS – as soon as finalized, and ECONET scheme would be accessible for all relevant Ministries/decision makers of the countries of the region, as well as NGOs. Now some information on the project is initially presented on the site of REC http://www.carec.kz/, database on legislation is presented on a special site http://www.ca-econet.info, contacts - - firstname.lastname@example.org – regional legal database, email@example.com ecological code of Kyrgyz republic. All materials will be passed to SIC ICSD.