Lakes of the forest steppes and steppes of Northern Kazakstan are one of the most important areas for migratory waterfowl concentrations in Eurasia. Huge numbers of geese, ducks, gulls, cranes, waders and other birds pass through the area in spring and especially in autumn. The general ecological conditions of the wetlands are favourable for waterfowl, but at the same time the recent status of some wetlands in the area can be characterised as unsustainable because of increased anthropogenic pressure, such as autumn hunting, fishing and cattle-breeding. The list of migratory bird species of the wetlands in the Kustanay region includes many rare and particularly important species like the Lesser White-fronted Goose (Anser erythropus), Red-breasted Goose (Branta ruficollis), White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala), Siberian White Crane (Grus leucogeranus), and possibly even the extremely rare and endangered Slender-billed Curlew (Numenius tenuirostris). The most important wetlands in the region includes e.g. lakes Kulykol, Aksuat, Koybagar, Tontegyr-Djunshura, Bozshakol, Djaman, Syleti-Tenize and Shagly-Tenize.
First steps for the creation of a network of protected areas in the area included large-scale census of different groups of rare species. These were carried out under the State programme for “Waterfowl birds” ( 1989-1993). Annual estimates of the number of game animals are carried out before the hunting season; international expeditions devoted to Slender-billed Curlew (Numenius tenuirostris) (1994-1997), Lesser White-fronted Goose (Anser erythropus) and Red-breasted Goose (Branta ruficollis) (1996-1999) were carried out; some specially protected areas were created in 1967-1996, where all hunting is forbidden.
As a result of the work conducted earlier, the size, boundaries, and location of seven protected areas have been already identified. They represent different types of the forest-steppe. This project intended to conduct additional work in order to combine these territories into a single network, including nesting and feeding sites for migratory species.
The main goal of the project is to create a network of protected areas, with particular attention to rare, endangered and migratory species (nesting, moulting and feeding sites). The main objectives of the project are:
The main outputs of the 5 year activities of the project were the following: