Learn more

© WWF Russia / Olga Pereladova
© WWF Russia / Evgenii Bragin

More detailed information on the project

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:

  • Finalising the analysis of the existing data on the main areas of waterfowl concentrations in Northern Kazakhstan
  • Inventory of key wetlands, analysis of the recent ecological and economical situation around these areas
  • Identification of the necessary conservation measures in each area
  • Preparation of the necessary documents for establishment of protected areas and their approval by all relevant authorities
  • Practical creation of a network of protected areas of different categories
  • Development of the ecotourism program for the region: choice of preferable sites, staff training, infrastructure creation, international promotion

The main outputs of the 5 year activities of the project were the following:

  • Inventory of key wetlands for waterfowl and other wetland species was completed for northern Kustanai
  • international Seminar on Conservation of the Wetlands in Kostanay region was organized
  • Special trainings were organised for local people on inventory work, ecotourism development; etc.;
  • Scientific (description of areas, species records, maps, etc.) and official documents for establishing system of protected areas were prepared;
  • Approval of the proposals by local and official authorities was received;
  • Proposals on PA creation approved and implemented (doubling of zapovednik area, creation of 2 sanktuaries, some areas with special regime);
  • Ecotourism program initially implemented, involving local people;
  • Publications: books “Key wetland areas of Northern Kazakhstan” (in Russian); The Annotated List of Vertebrates of The Naurzum National Nature Reserve; booklets, leaflets, special TV-programmes, lectures, video and TV-programmes, mass-media publications.
  • Spring hunting was stopped in Kostanay region since 2003