March ecodates

Publication date: 20 March 2024

On March 21 and March 22, the world will celebrate two significant environmental dates dedicated to forests and water resources. Whereas forests are the planet's lungs, water is its blood vessels.

It is symbolic that forests and water, like yin and yang, give life to the planet in their harmonious interaction.

On March 21, the planet will celebrate the International Day of Forests, the theme of which in 2024 is “Forests and Innovation: New Solutions for a Better World.”

The battle against deforestation requires new technological advancements. With 10 million hectares lost annually due to deforestation and approximately 70 million hectares affected by fires, these innovations are essential for early warning systems, sustainable commodity production, and empowering Indigenous Peoples through land mapping and climate finance access. Additionally, ecosystem restoration, including reforestation efforts, can significantly contribute to climate mitigation and enhance food security while pushing the boundaries of sustainable wood products, and enhance food security while promoting sustainable wood products.

Interesting facts about Central Asian forests:

-           Forests in Central Asia occupy 10 thousand sq. km, which is 0.3% of the region’s area.

-           Almost 90 per cent of forests and other wooded areas perform protective functions. For example, in the Aral Sea basin, where the reduction of water area has led to the emergence of a salt desert, saxaul thickets protect against toxic salt dust carried by the winds.

-           Almost the entire area of Central Asia does not have lowland forest ecosystems. In the mountains, forests have declined sharply, occupying less than 1% of the productive area.

-           The largest number of forests is in the territory of Kazakhstan – 12,500 thousand hectares.

-           The largest areas of nut-fruit forests are located in the southwestern Tien Shan at altitudes from 1400 to 1800 m.

The German consulting organization Unique land use and forestry and the branch of the Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC) in the Kyrgyz Republic conducted The 2nd National Forest Inventory. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that this type of forest inventory is carried out only in Kyrgyzstan from the countries of Central Asia. 

March 22 is World Water Day and this year's theme is Water for Peace.

Water is also at the heart of adaptation to climate change, serving as the crucial link between the climate system, human society and the environment. Without proper water governance, there is likely to be increased competition for water between sectors and an escalation of water crises of various kinds, triggering emergencies in a range of water-dependent sectors.

Interesting facts about water resources in Central Asia:

-           There are about 12 thousand rivers in Central Asia, and more than 10 thousand rivers flow in mountainous areas.

-           The largest rivers in the region are transboundary. The Syr Darya and Amu Darya rivers flow through the territory of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan and flow into the Aral Sea.

-           An important hydrological feature of Central Asia is that the sources of most rivers are mountains, where water resources accumulate, while water is consumed and evaporates on the plains of the region.

-           The largest lakes in Central Asia are the Aral Sea, Issyk-Kul, Balkhash, and Karakul. Based on the formation of basins, they are tectonic lakes. The Aral Sea is of glacial origin

-           The largest lakes of anthropogenic origin are Sarykamyshskoye in the lower reaches of the Amu Darya and Arnasay in the middle reaches of the Syr Darya.

-           The volume of water in lakes of anthropogenic origin is estimated at 40 km3, it is highly mineralized and can be used to preserve biodiversity.

CAREC is implementing a range of initiatives to conserve the region’s water resources in the main areas of activity:

1. Water quality and environmental issues: water quality standards, status of water resources, improvement measures, cooperation mechanisms, and payments for ecosystem services (PES).

2. Transboundary cooperation: in small basins, for local communities, work on conventions, work with various stakeholders on basin planning, and creation of regional working groups.

3. Training and capacity development in the water sector: thematic training modules, reference books, infographics, CDs and books.

4. Training and information center and platform for cooperation. Partnership with scientific/educational institutions in Central Asia; interaction with regional organizations of Central Asia; support of information portals.

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