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Cooperation in Central Asia region and Russia

The Central Asian Region (CAR) is a vast inland area within Asia and includes the following countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Russia occupies most of Eastern Europe and northern Asia. The larger part of the CAR is an internal flow area with big rivers and water bodies, including those of the transboundary character. The largest lakes, Aral, Caspian and Balkhash, have a nature- and climate-forming impact. The CAR is within a uniform environment of inland basins that do not have access to the great oceans, which, in combination with an arid climate, imposes significant environmental restrictions on economic activities and commerce.

Due to specific natural and geographic actors, most environmental problems in the CAR and Russia are either transboundary (water use, water and air pollution, protection of biological diversity, resisting desertification) or common for most countries in the region. Therefore, their effective solution depends on joint efforts by all countries.

Availability of water resources has always determined settling and economic activities of the peoples living in Central Asia and Russia. The major rivers include: Syr-Darya and Amudarya (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan), Chu and Talas (Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan), Tarim (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, People’s Republic of China), Ili (China, Kazakhstan), Irtysh (China, Kazakhstan, Russia), Ural, Ishim, and Tobol (Kazakhstan, Russia). Formed during the Soviet Union era , the resource approach still prevails in the water management activities of Central Asian countries. Water is mainly regarded from the viewpoints of agriculture and power engineering without taking into account its many other functions. As an effect, the quality of the potable water and public health, have become aggravated, and soil fertility and crop yields have decreased. Leading to a growth in poverty, unemployment and migration.

The presence of vulnerable ecosystems: mountainous, arid area and semi-deserts is also characteristic for the lands. The welfare of Central Asia and Russia depends considerably on the natural balance of the fluvial formation zones, mountainous ecosystems of the Pamir, Tien Shan and Altai. However, in the mountains of Central Asia and Russia certain degradation processes are currently growing. These include disafforestation and erosion, pollution with wastes and a reduction of pasturelands. The collapse of ecosystems has caused a considerable reduction in biological variety. The numbers of vanished or threatened animal and plant species is growing. Regulated water run-off, and the pollution of rivers has also caused a reduction in fish reserves.

A part of the environmental problems also include those connected with the area surrounding the Caspian . Ecosystem conditions of the Caspian Sea, the world’s biggest inland water reservoir, are unique in biological variety of flora and fauna, causing serious concerns of national governments and communities of the Caspian countries. Disintegration of environmental and economic interests in the Caspian basin threaten this unique ecosystem.

One of the major problems in the Central-Asian area is desertification. Degraded soils in Kazakhstan cover 66% of its total area, and those of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan up to 80%. Should salinization continue to increase at the same speed, within a few decades the major rural areas surrounding the river basin will become useless for agriculture. Salinization of the rivers will make them improper for potable water supply.

The numerous military and civil test fields known throughout the world like Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Field, Baikonur Space Vehicle Launching Site, and Aralkum which is a new desert in the modern history, continue to make their negative transboundary impact causing air pollution in addition to new sources of human-caused desertification.

The cooperation between the CAR countries and Russia is undoubtedly based on the historic commonness factor, which has united the peoples of the region for more than half a century. Similar physical, geographical, social, and economic conditions provide common and transboundary environmental problems, and hence, nature protection objectives have to be solved by joint and well-coordinated efforts of the region’s countries.

Please use the following links for detailed information:
Regional Strategies
Regional Programmes/Initiatives
Regional Reports
Regional Projects
Regional Agreements
Last updated: 2003-11-19 14:25:44

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