Uzbekistan is home to many globally threatened species of animals and plants. Nine percent of Uzbekistan’s 4,800 plant species are endemic; the country’s vertebrate species include more than 50 % endemics, among them 15.4 % of its mammals. The Red Data Book of Uzbekistan (2009) contains 184 endangered species of animals.
Uzbekistan’s biodiversity is increasingly threatened by a growing number of environmental problems. Leading among them are overgrazing, soil degradation, depletion and pollution of aquatic resources, unregulated clear-cutting, poaching, exploitation of resources, high population pressure, and climate change. Under these circumstances, we highly approve of the expressed willingness of the Uzbek government to develop and expand a network of nature reserves and to bring it up to international standards.
The main emphasis of the Michael Succow Foundation’s work in Uzbekistan was the mid-range transfer of existing, strictly protected nature reserves (so-called “Zapovedniki”) into international protection categories through the creation of buffer zones and a management concept that includes the needs of the local population. This concept included the development of eco-tourism, the creation of new sources of income for the local population, the integration of the populace in the environmental efforts, and networking with political and scientific agents. We worked together with UNDP/GEF and the Government of Uzbekistan project "Strengthening Sustainability of the National Protected Area System by Focusing on Strictly Protected Areas".
Three nature reserves were identified as potential development areas. The Ecocentre Jeiran is located near the town of Bukhara, along the old Silk Road. Only recently the reserve was expanded by four times its original size to a total area of 200 square kilometres. The reserve is home to large herds of Goitered Gazelles (locally known as „Jeyran“), as well as populations of the strongly decimated, now re-introduced Kulan and Przewalski’s Horse, the latter extinct in the wild. Besides serving as a breeding ground for endangered species such as Houbara Bustard, Ferruginous Duck and Marbled Teal, the reserve is also an important stop-over for migratory species, including Dalmatian Pelican, White-headed Duck, Cinereous Vulture, Imperial Eagle, Little Bustard, Corn Crake and Great Snipe.
The Hissar Zapovednik, with a total area of 812 square kilometres, contains vast, untouched high alpine habitats that are a refuge for rare species such as the Isabelline Brown Bear, the Eurasian Lynx and the Snow Leopard, whose largest population in Uzbekistan occurs here. The area has breeding Cinereous Vultures and Saker Falcons, while Lesser Kestrels occur in migration.
On 250 square kilometres, the Surkhan Zapovednik, located on the Turkmenistan border, harbours populations of the Markhor and the Karakul sheep. Besides breeding Golden Eagles, the reserve also hosts Bearded, Cinereous and Griffon Vultures as well as numerous species of songbirds.
As part of the project, the foundation was able to offer a young natural scientist from Uzbekistan participation in the two-year masters programme "Landscape Ecology and Nature Conservation" at Greifswald University. In addition, we supported young students who have formed a grass-roots movement for environmental and conservation concern by offering opportunities for networking and education.
In October 2011, a new aspect was added to the project. During the project's first year, the foundation has learned more about possibilities for nature conservation in Usbekistan. The foundation then aimed to analyse landscape and political conditions in order to develop a unique protected area in the autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan. This included an assessment whether financial mechanisms under the global efforts for climate protection are to be considered.
This project was financed by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.
Further project information
A project information sheet is available for download here.