The five-year project “Biodiversity Preservation and integrated River Basin Development in the Syrdaria River Valley of Kazakhstan”, funded by WWF/MFA Norway is completed in June 2012.
The Project aims to conserve and restore the biodiversity of flood plain habitats (Tugai) along the middle course of the Syrdaria River and of the adjacent steppes and forests of the Karatau Mountains
Overall Goal: Provide a model for sustainable development in the middle stretches of the Syrdaria Valley by integrating nature conservation with sustainable use of natural resources for the benefits of nature and the local population.
There were four main modules (specific objectives) of the project:
From the very beginning, information about the project was briefly described in a leaflet Riparian forests of Syr-Darya river and Karatau mountains – unique nature complexes of the Planet , which was widely distributed in the region and helped to raise awareness on the problems of the region and suggested ways to solve them.
In order to facilitate socio-economic development of local communities and restoration of ecosystems, a range of measures were required, in particular mobilizing back-up from decision makers at different levels, support from the local population, establishing working groups to identify core zones and corridors for the protected area system, agreeing on land-use options for buffer zones and corridors with stakeholders, developing land-use alternatives and communicating these to stakeholders and promoting their acceptance through training, education and awareness.
The project was operating in a stable political environment. The countries economy is well developed and the government is committed to the “Green Development Program”, this implies increased attention to and funding for nature conservation and sustainable land-use. The governmental authority directly responcible for rare species conservation and protected areas system development - Forest and Hunting Committee of the Ministry of Agriculture was stable, so 5 rotations of the Minister of Environment Conservation had no impact on the project execution.
The choice of project area had beed very lucky - there had been no PAs in the riparian forests of Kazakhstan, while the moden vision of the government is to protect practically all important riparian forests (because of their water saving role, in vision of climate change and aridisation and thanks to abundunce of fertile agricultural lands in steppes of Kazakhstan which allows to limit agrricaltural use of river valleys - an important difference from othe countries of the Central Asian Region).Quick economical development of the country and of the project region in particular made capacity building component so impotant, involvement of local communities- very efficient. High level of local scientific expertise (e.g.Turkestanskii University) was also an important encouredgement.