Environmental conservation work in Central Asia

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Shepherds and their flock in Kazakhstan
© WWF-Russia / Nikolay Kuznetsov

Threats

Despite a relatively low population density, anthropogenic pressure in the region is important.

WWF’s “Ecological Footprint” analysis has shown that Central Asian countries suffer the highest pressure on freshwater resources in the world. Rivers such as the Amudarya and Syrdarya, once the region’s largest, no longer reach the Aral Sea, and their deltas are in the process of degradation. The level of the Aral Sea is decreasing catastrophically, exposing salt sediments on the lake bottom and dispersing them throughout Eurasia.

The recent privatization of land in a number of the region's countries has allowed for a variety of types of resource exploitation such as catastrophic local overgrazing in the pastures and forest logging which leads to the increased frequency of mud slides and progressing erosion.

After the collapse of the USSR, the rise in poverty, a relaxation in government regulations, and easier access to arms have rapidly increased hunting pressures on wildlife.

An important factor affecting conservation in the region is the extremely complicated socioeconomic situation, which does not allow the countries to pay the necessary attention to the problems of nature protection. For this reason, international assistance to these republics at this particular point in their history is especially urgent.

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