Central Asian Desert Initiative (CADI)

Conservation and sustainable use of cold winter deserts of Central Asia

The Central Asian countries have a major responsibility for the preservation of cold winter deserts, one of the least protected biomes worldwide.

The cold winter deserts are a major migration area for wild ungulates as well as migratory birds and deliver a broad range of ecosystem services, providing the most important pastures in the arid and semi-arid drylands of the region, fixing sand and dust and sequestering carbon. Yet, these deserts are threatened by degradation processes initiated through overexploitation of natural resources, e.g. firewood collection, inappropriate grazing practices and large-scale infrastructure development. A tremendous and partially irreversible loss of habitats and species, among them globally threatened and endemic, became apparent. The vulnerability of this biome is still poorly understood, but ongoing desertification processes are already putting million people’s livelihoods at risk.

As national governments are becoming increasingly aware of desertification processes, national strategies and legislations on the conservation and sustainable use of desert ecosystems are being elaborated in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The international community must now join forces to become involved into conservation and sustainable use of cold winter deserts of Central Asia. The Central Asian Desert Initiative (CADI) intends to build the solid foundation.

Central Asian Desert Initiative (CADI)

Conservation and sustainable use of cold winter deserts of Central Asia

Location: Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

Duration: 07.2016 - 06.2022


Initiated as the quintessence of eight years experience on scientific and implementation projects of Succow Foundation in Central Asian desert regions, CADI is planned to become leverage for future conservation and sustainable use of the unique desert ecosystems in Central Asia. The project intends to elaborate jointly with national stakeholders a neutral platform to engage in a constructive dialogue with all relevant acteurs. Using their knowledge, networks and experiences on arresting and reversing land degradation trends, promoting conservation of desert ecosystems and increasing resilience to climate change and extreme weather events in Central Asia is the long term goal.

Scientific publications:

Manthey, M., Welscher, Ch., Wunderlich, J., Murzakhanov, R., Sklyarenko, S., Gritsina, M., Karryeva, S., Pavlenko, A., Nishanov, N.: Cold Winter Deserts of Central Asia (Turan), Science Direct "Reference Collection in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences"

Batsaikhan, B., Lkhamjav, O., Batsaikhan, G., Batsaikhan, N., and Norovsuren, B.: Carbon stock estimation using remote sensing data and field measurement in Haloxylon ammodendron dominant winter cold desert region of Mongolia, ISPRS Ann. Photogramm. Remote Sens. Spatial Inf. Sci., V-3-2020, 9-17

Chirikova M.A., Zima Yu.A., Pestov M.V. & Terentjev V.A.: About the problem of mass death of reptiles in barrage trenches in South Kazakhstan. In: Selevinia, 2019, Vol. 27, p. 111-114. [in Russian] О подтверждении обитания длинноногого сцинка (Eumeces schneideri) на территории Казахстана

Gritsina, M. (2019): The Caracal Caracal caracal Schreber, 1776 (Mammalia: Carnivora: Felidae) in Uzbekistan

IUCN (2020): World Heritage thematic study for Central Asia: priority sites for World Heritage nomination under criteria (ix) and (x)

Nuridjanov, D., Abduraupov, T. & Gritsina, M. (2019): Findings of the herpetological investigations to the Southern and Central Ustyurt Plateau and Sarykamysh basin (Uzbekistan) [in Russian] РЕЗУЛЬТАТЫ ГЕРПЕТОЛОГИЧЕСКИХ ИССЛЕДОВАНИЙ ЮЖНОЙ И ЦЕНТРАЛЬНОЙ ЧАСТЕЙ ПЛАТО УСТЮРТ И САРЫКАМЫШСКОЙ КОТЛОВИНЫ (РЕСПУБЛИКА УЗБЕКИСТАН)

Pavlenko, A. (2019): Ferula karakumica (Apiaceae), a new species from Turkmenistan

Ten, A. & Soldatov V. (2019): The Practice of Identifying a Nesting Biotope for Raptors in the Central Part of the Kyzylkum Desert Using the GIS Technology

Pestov, M.V., Dieterich, T., Terentyev, V.A., Nurmuhambetov, Z.E., Muhashov, A.T. & D.A. Denisov: Problems and solutions regarding the border fence that mitigates the migration of ungulates on the territory of the Mangystau Oblast of the Republic of Kazakhstan. [In Russian: Проблема пограничных проволочных заграждений, препятствующих миграциям копытных животных, на территории Мангистауской области Республики Казахстан и пути её решения]. In: Selevinia (2018), Vol. 26, p. 92-98


Project results:

Poster/ Calendar monitor lizard: uzbek | russian

CADI brochure  #English  #German  #Russian  #Turkmen

Posters on biodiversity in Ustyurt Pre-Aral region

Online Youtube channel „Vse Kak U Zverei“ broadcasts series on cold winter deserts:

#1 The hateful eight

#2 Lifehacks, that safe your life

#3 Why are animals so cute?

Report on the CADI-biodiversity expeditions to Southern Ustyurt (Kazakhstan) 2017-2019

Digital Herbaria of Central Asia



CADI is jointly implemented by the University of Greifswald (Germany), the Succow Foundation (Germany) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Sub-regional Office for Central Asia (Ankara, Turkey).

This project is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag.

For more information pls. visit the CADI project website, where you may also subscribe to the quarterly issued CADI-Newsletter.  

Contact person

Jens Wunderlich
World heritage, resource management, cartography


Tel +49 3834 45284 24