An upgraded tourist route in Sairam-Ugam National Park opened with UNDP support
June 27, 2023
With United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) support, the upgraded Sayramsu Anizdary tourist trail was opened in the Sayram-Ugam State National Nature Park, located in the north-east part of the Western Tien-Shan Mountain range.
The renovation work included the installation of entrance gates, viewing points, art objects, information signs and thematic placards (stands) presenting information about the biodiversity of the national park. All elements were designed using local natural materials that blend in with the local natural landscape and the concept of the trail as much as possible. The total length of the trail from the entrance and back is about 16 km and it takes about six to eight hours to traverse the ascents and descents. The concept of the "Sayramsu Anizdary" trail is based on human acquaintance with the unique nature of the Western Tien-Shan.
Today, protected wilderness areas, most notably national parks, play a key role in ecotourism development. Kazakhstan has 14 national parks, encompassing a rich biological diversity of forests, mountains, deserts and lakes. According to the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan, in 2022, approximately 2 million tourists visited the country's national parks, a 25 percent increase over 2021.
With UNDP support, systematic work to develop ecotourism is being carried out in the Sayram-Ugam National Park. The improvement of tourist routes and trails in natural areas enhances the safety of outdoor enthusiasts and allows for an even distribution of the recreational load. In 2022, Sayram-Ugam National Park, the largest in the Turkestan Region, was visited by 68,350 people, and, as of the beginning of 2023, the number reached 64,500 people.
"For many years, UNDP has been firmly supporting Kazakhstan's commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Increasing the potential of specially protected natural areas (SPNAs), developing ecotourism, and supporting local communities are key tasks on this path and form the basis for the economic and social well-being of the regions, positively impacting biodiversity conservation and ecological systems. Today, UNDP, together with its national partners, is conducting a series of initiatives to develop ecotourism in Kazakhstan's protected areas. It actively supports the local population and takes comprehensive measures to minimize the risks associated with biodiversity loss," noted Katarzyna Wawiernia, UNDP Resident Representative in Kazakhstan.
"To promote sustainable development of ecotourism, we are working on improving the legislative framework related to specially protected natural areas. The National Standard 2993-2017 on ecotourism has been updated. To ensure transparency in collecting fees for the use of protected natural areas and reduce corruption risks in national park works on national parks checkpoints automation is being currently done. Pilot projects for automating control checkpoints are being implemented in the Kolsay Kolderi and Ile-Alatau National Parks. Popular trails in the Charyn Canyon and Singing Barkhan in the Charyn and Altyn-Emel National Parks, respectively, have been fully developed and improved. The majority of national parks are connected to banking payment services for visitors to purchase entrance tickets online," noted Daniyar Turgambaev, Deputy Chairman of the Forestry and Wildlife Committee, Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
It should be noted that with UNDP support, tourist trails have also been updated in the Qaton-Qaragay National Park and the Kolsay Kolderi National Park. In terms of sustainable tourism development, UNDP has launched a virtual tour that provides detailed information about the natural sites of the Sayram-Ugam National Park. In total, virtual tours have been implemented in five protected areas in the country: the West Altai Nature Reserve, Katon-Karagay, Sayram-Ugam, Tarbagatai National Parks and the Kolsay Kolderi National Park.
UNDP provides comprehensive support to the development of ecotourism in Kazakhstan, recognizing the importance and potential of this sector for the country's economy. Over the past 14 years, with UNDP support, eight new specially protected natural areas were created and the territories of three existing protected areas expanded. The new Aqzhaiyq, Altyn-Dala and Ile-Balkhash nature reserves and the Buiratau, Zhonghar Alatau and Tarbaghatai national parks were established. A first in Kazakhstan – the ecological corridors of Qapshaghai-Balkhash and Yrghyz-Torghai-Zhylanshyq were created on 2.9 million hectares.
As part of UNDP activities, special attention is paid to the implementation of an additional environmental education programme in secondary schools, capacity-building within local communities and rural entrepreneurs for the development of sustainable businesses. Thus, with UNDP support 39 business projects worth ₸227.0 million were financed under the Eco-Damu Loan Programme.
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