Head of a living snow leopard
Snow leopard, Kazakhstan

Abundant animal and plant life is critical for human welfare, particularly the welfare of people living in poverty. 

Biodiversity nourishes crops, enriches ecosystems and strengthens our ability to withstand natural disasters.

In Europe and the CIS, privatization and land redistribution have contributed to habitat destruction and the depletion of natural resources. Uncontrolled agriculture, illegal logging, unsustainable mining practices, and overgrazing have also served to destroy biodiversity.

As a result, over one million hectares of wetlands in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan have been damaged. More than 20 million hectares of steppe ecosystems in Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine have lost their ability to support their ecosystems. In the Balkans and the CIS, millions of cubic metres of pristine forests have been ravaged by illegal logging.

One out of every seven mammal species in Europe is threatened with extinction.

What we do

In partnership with the Global Environment Facility, UNDP helps countries prevent biodiversity and ecosystem loss by supporting protected areas and by integrating biodiversity principles into economic and land-use planning.

UNDP works with a wide variety of partners and local communities to mobilize funding and knowledge. Specific interventions include:

  • Fostering the resilience of protected areas and supporting national policies and financing mechanisms for protected area systems (Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, FYR Macedonia and Ukraine).
  • Protecting poorly represented and threatened ecosystems (Montenegro, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan).
  • Working to include the principles of biodiversity into economic activities, ensuring that production processes support essential ecosystem functions (fisheries in Kyrgyzstan, agriculture in Georgia and Tajikistan, energy sector in Russia and Uzbekistan and territorial planning in Belarus and Moldova).
  • Targeting European Union (EU) environmental subsidy programmes (Hungary, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Slovakia)

Results so far

Many countries in the region have achieved measurable results in addressing biodiversity loss. Independent project evaluations have shown that ecosystems across more than 50 million hectares of productive land have been improved. Over 100,000 hectares of previously degraded areas have been restored.

In Belarus, for example, 28,000 hectares of degraded peat lands have been rejuvenated, helping to prevent wildfires.

Communities along the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia, are employing organic agriculture along 190,000 hectares of land area and 702,000 hectares of sea surface, including shellfish farming, green tourism, landscape planning, and support to native breeds.

FYR Macedonia has started to earmark funds for nature conservation purposes in the national budget, and introduced payments for depleting the environment.

Kazakhstan committed $3 million annually to support a biodiversity management system and modern management of wetlands of international importance. It also directed tens of millions of dollars to new protected areas that were established with UNDP assistance.

Romania increased the involvement of local communities in nature resource management in two of the most prominent Carpathian nature reserves of the country.

Call to action:

  1. Create protected areas to preserve threatened biodiversity and equip their management authorities with the means to protect ecosystems and support sustainable use of natural resources

  2. Integrate sustainable ecosystem management principles into industries such as mining, agriculture, and forestry

  3. Restore ecosystems which have degraded because of human activities