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News: January 2007

KAZAKHSTAN SIGNS UP TO PROTECT IMPORTANT WETLANDS

Kazakhstan has become the 154th Party to the Ramsar Convention. The news gives greater strength to conservation work in the country, say conservationists working to protect Globally Threatened Birds like Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus and White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala.

The Convention on Wetlands, signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

The first Ramsar site to be declared in Kazakhstan will be the ‘Tengiz-Korgalzhyn Lake System’. The site comprises the complete lake system, the lake shore areas as well as a buffer zone. Altogether the area totals some 353,000 hectares.

An associated nature museum and visitors’ centre will encourage the use of the site for science-based tourism and research.

The news has been welcomed by the Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity in Kazakhstan (ACBK) who have been working towards Kazakhstan’s succession to the Convention.

“Korgalzhyn and Tengiz Lakes are particularly important areas for migratory birds” said Valery Khrokov, President of ACBK. “Accession to the Ramsar Convention will help us ensure that our efforts to conserve them fit into a global strategy for conserving wetland birds.”

Work towards this accession, including a Ramsar Small Grants Fund project, has also been assisted by BirdLife International, mainly through the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) and by the United Nations Development Programme.

“Conserving migratory birds relies heavily on the involvement and commitment of all of the countries in which these birds reside” said Dave Pritchard, International Treaties Adviser at RSPB. "Kazakhstan has a huge wealth of wetland habitats - that they have joined Ramsar is great news for bird conservation in the region."

The Ramsar Convention has become one of the most important global mechanisms for BirdLife Partners in their national work. Many Partners have contributed to the designation of IBAs as Wetlands of International Importance in their countries, and many help to monitor these sites, Kazinform quotes the BirdLife International news.

Source: KAZINFORM, 16.01.2007

ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS OF THE CITY TO BE DISCUSSED AT THE PUBLIC HEARINGS IN ALMATY

18 January 2007 Almaty will hold public hearings “Almaty in the Face of Environmental Problems” organized by Nature Resources Management Department (NRMD) of the Almaty city administration, CARNet press service reported.

In the course of hearings, which will be attended by heads of different organizations and forms of business of the city, the public and mass media, it is planned to jointly identify the ways to solve the environmental problems of Almaty.

Presently, Nature Resources Management Department of Almaty Akimat is collecting proposals and questions to be discussed at the given meeting, which must be submitted to organizers of the hearings no later than 17:00 15 January 2007 on the following e-mail address: orp@almatyeco.kz

Source: CARNet press service, 16.01.2007

KAZAKHSTAN BECOMES THE 154TH RAMSAR CONTRACTING PARTY

The Ramsar Secretariat is very pleased to welcome Kazakhstan as the Convention's 154th Contracting Party. The Convention will enter into force for Kazakhstan on 2 May 2007, CARNet press service reports referring to The Ramsar Bulletin Board.

Kazakhstan's first Ramsar site, the "Tengiz-Korgalzhyn Lake System" (50°25'N 069°15'E) in Akmola Oblast, was actually added to the List of Wetlands of International Importance by the former Soviet Union in October 1976. As re-defined by Kazakhstan's authorities, the Ramsar site now comprises the Nature Reserve itself around the lake shore area, roughly 259,000 hectares with about the same boundaries as the Soviet-era designation, plus a 2-km buffer zone around it, for a total of 353,341 hectares.

The Ramsar Information Sheet indicates that Korgalzhyn and Tengiz Lakes are representative examples of a shallow lake system with a mix of fresh, salty and brackish water bodies characteristic for the north of Kazakhstan, situated in a steppe landscape with little relief and grass oceans covering the land to the horizon. Reed beds scattered on islands by the heavy ice load of the winter leave channels and lakes open. The Tengiz-Korgalzhyn lakes have been a strict nature reserve since 1968, but the adjacent lake systems of the Tengiz lake basin are not strictly protected and will be added as clusters to this nomination at a later stage.

An enormous number of birds stop over in the region - on the mud islands on lake Tengiz the northernmost colony of Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber, the symbol of the Korgalzhyn Nature Reserve) reaches up to 14,000 breeding pairs. The Korgalzhyn Lakes harbor big colonies of the Dalmatian Pelican (Pelicanus crispus) with over 500 breeding pairs nesting in the vast reed beds (10% of the world population). The White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala) is breeding and resting at the fresh and brackish lakes; in autumn it can be observed in numbers of up to 4,000 birds (30-40% of the world population) in the protected area. A management plan is under development under a GEF/UNDP “Integrated Conservation of Priority Globally Significant Wetlands as habitat of the migrating Water Birds: Demonstration on Three Project Sites” project . There is an associated nature museum and visitors' centre which attracts groups from the new capital, Astana, but only scientific tourism and res> earch is permitted and tourism within the Reserve itself, as opposed to in the buffer zone, is not expected to increase.

Work towards this accession, including a Ramsar Small Grants Fund project, has been assisted by BirdLife International, mainly through the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (BirdLife in the UK), and the Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity in Kazakhstan (ACBK), as well as by the UNDP office in Astana.

Source: CARNet press service, 16.01.2007

KYRGYZ GDP UP 2.7% IN 2006

GDP in Kyrgyzstan increased a tentative 2.7% in 2006 to 113.176 billion som, Interfax reported citing to a source in the Kyrgyz National Statistics Committee Inflation in the country last year ran at 5.6%. According to the statistics, GDP growth minus the contribution by the Kumtor gold project amounted to 5.1% to 107.76 billion som.

Industrial output adjusted for the Kumtor project fell 10.2% to 50.88 billion som, although output grew 4.2% to 35.85 billion som minus the Kumtor project.

In 2005 Kyrgyz GDP fell 0.6% and inflation ran at 4.9%.

Source: KABAR, 16.01.2007