“I’m ready to give additional 100 thousand ha for buffer zones around the reserve”, said chairman of the Khatlon area Gaibullo Avzalov at the anniversary celebration.
The area includes desert inhabited by the only Tajikistan’s survived goitred gazelle population and the endangered houbara bustard.
However, the most important part of the reserve consists of riparian forests called “tugai” forests. The largest tugai forest in the world with an area of 24 thousand ha is located in this reserve, between the Vakhsh and Pyandzh rivers. The reserve’s riparian forests are inhabited by such species as Bukhara deer, jungle cat, golden jackal, tolai hare, and pheasant.
“Since July 2007, WWF with funding from Norway government has improved the water drainage system in the reserve and surrounding areas. We have cleaned canals to ensure water flow from rivers to the tugai lakes and therefore save the forests”, says Olga Pereladova, head of WWF International Central Asia Programme. Regular floods in the reserve stopped after dams had been constructed on the Vakhsh and Pyandzh rivers. Water drainage system is crucial for the survival of the tugai forests.
WWF also organizes water management courses and contests for farmers. Three winners of the first contest will be announced in the nearest future and will receive grants for implementation of their projects.