Saving nesting and wintering spots on Caspian coast

04 Jun 2010

by Timur Dosmamedov, Communications Associate, UNDP Turkmenistan


Photo: Alex Scherbina Shoreline monitoring expedition
along the coast of the Caspian Sea.
The Hazar Nature Reserve on the Caspian Sea Coast of Turkmenistan is a treasure trove of biological diversity. Predominantly wetland, the reserve is home to some 1814 distinct species of flora and fauna, the majority of which are endemic to the region. In addition to being an important wintering area for Caspian sturgeon and Caspian seals, the reserve sits at the crossroads of two of the world’s major migratory flyways - the Central Asian-Indian Flyway and the East African Flyway – making it particularly important as a stopover point for migratory birds.

However the biodiversity of the Caspian Sea coastal regions is threatened by the increasingly dramatic effects of global climate change; the receding sea level may lead to disappearance of intertidal islands, major nesting sites for birds and other wildlife.

To better understand and adapt to the changing ecological situation, the United Nations Development Programme and the Hazar Nature Reserve are developing adaptive approaches to the conservation of biodiversity in the reserve.  The goal is to predict and ultimately mitigate the effects of the rapid change of the shoreline, the emergence of new islands and the disappearance of existing landscapes all of which affect the biodiversity of the region.  

This project is done in collaboration with  the Global Environment Facility and the Ministry of Nature Protection of Turkmenistan.

The conservation effort has begun to monitor changes in the sea level and the data obtained from these expeditions will allow the Hazar Nature Reserve to predict and map potential effects of climate change.  In due course, they will be able  to create biodiversity protection priorities for the reserve, establish a proper conservation regime, map out ecological guided tours to promote biodiversity in the reserve, and help local and national authorities plan housing construction in the coastal zone of the Caspian region.

UNDP has also facilitated regular surveys of birds wintering in the Turkmen coast of the Caspian Sea in order to determine the number and composition of birds. Based on the results of these studies, the researchers of the Hazar Nature Reserve can measure ecological wellbeing of protected areas and develop recommendations for the conservation and sustainable use of biological resources.

Despite the increasingly obvious effects of climate change in the region, with the help of the UNDP, Turkmenistan is well on its way to understanding and protecting the invaluable biodiversity of its Caspian Coastal Regions. While more must be done to prevent further climate deterioration, Turkmenistan has taken an important step to adapting to the current crisis.