Collaborative Actions for Biodiversity Conservation: From Western Tian Shan to Pamir-Alai

January 9, 2024
Alexandra Solovieva delivers opening remarks at the Steering committee meeting.

Alexandra Solovieva delivers opening remark at the Steering Committee meeting

Mirlan Dyikanbaev/ UNDP Kyrgyzstan

A seminar in Bishkek marked the conclusion of the biodiversity conservation project in Western Tian Shan and launched a new initiative for integrated management of the valuable mountain ecosystems of Pamir-Alai. The event brought together representatives from the Jogorku Kenesh of the Kyrgyz Republic, the Ministry of Natural Resources, Ecology, and Technical Supervision, the Ministry of Agriculture, the National Academy of Sciences, local state administrations, municipal bodies, conservation NGOs, forestry services, and UNDP.

Alexandra Solovieva, UNDP Resident Representative in the Kyrgyz Republic, highlighted the achievements of the Western Tian Shan project in her opening remarks. The project supported the adoption of a landscape approach, advocating for a holistic ecosystem strategy in biodiversity and natural resource planning, management, and monitoring. Key efforts included strengthening protected area management in Western Tian Shan, implementing high conservation value forest concepts, flagship species monitoring, revising sector legislation, expanding local community rights and opportunities, and promoting environmental education initiatives.

The Western Tian Shan project focused on preserving globally significant biodiversity and sustainable management of land and forest resources. A major achievement was the establishment of the Chatkal ecological corridor and the "Kabak" buffer quiet zone, spanning 89,000 hectares, linking three protected areas - Alatai, Sary-Chelek, and Padysha-Ata - and facilitating natural wildlife migration.

UNDP, in collaboration with the Forest Service under the Ministry of Agriculture of the Kyrgyz Republic, initiated measures to implement the concept of High Conservation Value Forests at the national level, pilot voluntary forest management certification, and develop a National Standard for Sustainable Forest Management. These measures, combined with reforestation in Western Tian Shan, aim to revive and save the country's forest ecosystems, crucial in climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation.

The snow leopard, an ecosystem indicator species, plays a vital role in the health of entire ecosystems and in determining the well-being of its prey species. UNDP's conservation initiatives focus on preserving and increasing the snow leopard population, with recent data showing a population of 15 to 28 individuals in the Western Tian Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan.

Efforts to enhance conservation effectiveness include reducing ecosystem pressure through alternative income sources, local development, and expanding socio-economic opportunities for residents near protected areas. The project supported income-generating initiatives in pilot villages of Toktogul and Toguz-Toro districts, with a focus on expanding socio-economic opportunities for women and youth.

In conclusion, Alexandra Solovieva emphasized, "Our current country program aligns closely with national priorities, focusing on low-carbon sustainable development and reliable ecosystem preservation. UNDP will continue to support Kyrgyzstan in sustainable ecosystem management and biodiversity conservation. Next year, we'll launch the 'Pamir-Alai' project, funded by the Global Environment Facility, reaffirming our dedication and partnership in preserving natural heritage and invaluable ecosystems."

About the Western Tian Shan Project (Completion – December 2023):

The "Conservation of globally important biodiversity and associated land and forest resources of Western Tian Shan mountain ecosystems to support sustainable livelihoods" project, implemented by UNDP in cooperation with the Ministry of Natural Resources, Ecology and Technical Supervision of Kyrgyzstan, focused on preserving biodiversity, sustainable forest, and pasture management, and ensuring sustainable use of forest and land resources.

About the Pamir-Alai Project (Start – January 2024):

The "Integrated Community-based Management of High-Value Mountain Ecosystems in Southern Kyrgyzstan for Multiple Benefits" project aims to preserve globally significant biodiversity in the high-value mountain ecosystems of Pamir-Alai, restore degraded lands, and maintain critical ecosystem services for sustainable livelihoods.