26 July 2018
Kazakhstan’s Charyn and Zhongar-Alatau national parks have joined the UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves. This was announced on Wednesday, 25 July 2018, during the 30th Session of the International Coordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB), taking place in Palembang, Indonesia.Every year the MAB International Coordinating Council adds new sites. Protecting mangroves, tropical rainforests and other biodiversity hotspots, this year UNESCO bumped up its World Network of Biosphere Reserves by 24 new sites, including two in Kazakhstan, which means that 686 unique natural sites in total are being preserved globally.
Thus, the list of Kazakhstan's biosphere reserves has been extended by two more sites and today includes ten reserves: Korgalzhyn (2012), Alakol (2013), Ak-Zhaiyk (2014), Katon-Karagay (2014), Aksu-Zhabagly (2015), Barsakelmes (2016), Karatau (2017), Altyn-Emel (2017), as well as one (the first and only in Central Asia) transboundary biosphere reserve “Great Altai” (2017) with Russian Federation.
Biosphere reserves are areas that are considered to be “living laboratories” for biodiversity studies and sites for testing different approaches to integrated natural resource management. These reserves are often seen as examples of sustainable development.
Thanks to the new designations, a host of precious areas representing multiple different terrains — along with ecosystems that encompass marine, swamp, forest peat and freshwater environments — are now being conserved. The reserves are particularly important for biodiversity hotspots with vulnerable ecosystems, such as coral reefs, dunes, sea marshes, mangroves and forests.
Ecosystems not only support a number of globally significant activities, including fishing, agriculture, animal breeding and tourism, but also provide habitats for migratory birds, rare animals and endangered species. These natural resources allow for activities compatible with sustainable development and protecting ancestral traditions.