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2 biosphere reserves in Kazakhstan are listed in UNESCO

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During the 30th session of the International Coordinating Council of UNESCO’s “Man and the Biosphere” Programme, two Kazakhstan’s biosphere reserves Charyn and Zhongar were included in the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves. The decision was made in the Indonesian city of Palembang.

Composed of 686 biosphere reserves in 122 countries, including 20 transboundary sites, the WNBR of the MAB Programme promotes North-South and South-South collaboration and represents a unique tool for international co-operation through sharing knowledge, exchanging experiences, building capacity and promoting best practices. The World Network of Biosphere Reserves consists of a dynamic and interactive network of sites of excellence. It fosters the harmonious integration of people and nature for sustainable development through participatory dialogue; knowledge sharing; poverty reduction and human well-being improvements; respect for cultural values and society’s ability to cope with change – thus contributing to the Millennium Development Goals. Accordingly, the WNBR is one of the main international tools to develop and implement sustainable development approaches in a wide array of contexts.

This event was preceded by long and painstaking work. During the last year the nomination dossiers for Charyn and Zhongar, prepared by the experts of the National Commission of Kazakhstan for UNESCO and ISESCO, successfully passed a preliminary assessment by international experts and as a result they were approved by the International Council.

“The Charyn and Zhongar – Alatau national parks have been added to the World Network Biosphere Reserves by the decision of the MAB international coordination council”, forestry and wildlife committee’s press secretary Saken Dildakhmet said.

Charyn biosphere reserve with an area of 239.7 hectares is located in Almaty region, in the inter-montane basin of Ili, in the southeast of Kazakhstan. This biosphere reserve unites the canyon-like valley of the Charyn river with relict ash forest, deserts and steppes typical of Central Asia. The floristic diversity includes some 1,000 species of higher vascular plants. The fauna is rich and diverse. While agriculture has long been the main economic activity in the region, tourism has been developing for several years alongside cattle breeding and horticulture.

Zhongar biosphere reserve with an area of 645.6 hectares is located in Almaty region on the northern slope of the Zhetysu Alataun Ridge and incorporates the entire range of mountain ecosystems characteristic of the Tien Shan mountains and Central Asia. The territory is of global importance as the location of the wild apple gene bank. The main economic sectors are agriculture and the industrial production of sunflower oil, flour and mineral water. Lands are mainly used for grazing and hayfields.

Therefore, the list of Kazakhstan’s biosphere reserves of UNESCO has been enlarged into two sites and includes ten bio-reserves: Ak-Zhayik, Aksu-Zhabagly, Korgalzhyn, Alakol, Katon-Karagay, Barsakelmes, Karatau, Altyn-Emel, Charyn and Zhongar.

The international status will allow the new UNESCO biosphere reserves to develop international cooperation, internal and external tourism more effectively and to become model territories for the successful implementation of the principles of sustainable development.

Source: Kazakhstan 2050

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