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NEWS AND EVENTS
December 11, 2013
Toward Ustyurt Riches with Concern for Nature
Uzbekistan intends to use the experience of Australia on conservation of natural biodiversity in the industrial development of the most exotic region of the country - the desert plateau Ustyurt.

This was announced in Tashkent at a meeting of interagency working group of the joint project of the Uzbek government, the UN Development Program, and the Global Ecological Fund.

Development of rich subsoil of this part of the country on the basis of agreements on production sharing is being implemented by the Uzbekneftegaz National Holding Company in cooperation with firms from Russia, China, South Korea, Malaysia and other countries.

The Ustyurt, turning the place of fabulous wealth, is one of the most severe deserts of the planet. This rocky plateau towering to 200-300 meters above the surrounding plains, borders with steeps. The translation of the word ‘ustyurt’ from Turkic languages literally means ‘elevated plain.’ Just a few decades ago, it was a real lost world where even scientific expeditions lost. Karakalpaks, the indigenous people of the region, told previously about the Ustyurt, “it is a desert where even the enemy can not be met.” Isolation of the plateau led to the originality of flora and fauna of the desert. Flora includes about 600 species of higher plants, with rare and endemic ones. Over 250 species of vertebrates inhabit in the plateau. Among them are species listed in the Red Book of Uzbekistan and the International Union for Nature Conservation – the Ustyurt sheep, gazelle, caracal, corsac, honey badger, hedgehog and antelope, as well as steppe eagle, golden eagle, bustard and other birds. Rare species of butterflies could be seen here as well.

Key representative of the Ustyurt fauna is a steppe antelope – saiga.

This specie is the indicator of steadiness of the Ustyurt ecosystem.

Saiga is on the verge of extinction. The situation is aggravated by the fact that it is a migratory animal, and except the territory of Uzbekistan and it ‘visits’ the lands of neighboring republics - Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Experience of implementation of the called nature conservation project showed that implementation of the tasks on integration of principles of conservation of biodiversity in the oil and gas sector of the economy it is necessary to strengthen existing legislation, to supplement it with regulations on strengthening the protection of nature.

For solving this problem, the project representatives together with lawyers have prepared a few amendments and additions to the basic environmental laws of the country. The main emphasis is made on the introduction to the legislation of the principles ‘avoiding - reducing - restoring - compensating.’ In addressing the challenges linked with the development of natural wealth of the Ustyurt, as noted at the meeting of the interagency working group, there is the prospect of developing a common position of nature protection organizations and businesses. In this case the most optimal turned the experience of Australia thoroughly studied by specialists.

(Source: “Uzbekistan Today” newspaper)


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