Kazakhstan: Conservation & Sustainable Management

PROJECT TITLEConservation and Sustainable Management of Key Globally Important Ecosystems for Multiple Benefits
EXECUTING PARTNERForestry and Wildlife Committee of the Ministry of Agriculture


Snow leopards require large areas of land to survive and thrive, depending on vast mountain and forest corridors as natural ‘bridges’ for their genetic mixing and interactions. Although Kazakhstan has protected approximately 8% of its total land area, only an estimated 30-35% of the nation’s snow leopard range lies within this protected area (PA) network, resulting in habitat fragmentation and disconnectivity as human activity encroaches on unprotected parcels. Moreover, critical wildlife habitat both within and outside of the PA network are facing severe degradation due to inadequate land management, unsustainable exploitation of natural resources, unregulated expansion of tourism, overgrazing by livestock, and climate change.

To address gaps in bio-geographical coverage, this project will focus on expanding the existing PA estate in accordance with a national plan prepared by the Government of Kazakhstan. It will focus on creating new PAs through increasing the total share of several critical, yet underrepresented ecosystems within the Kazakhstan PA estate by around 1,890,763 ha. Importantly, some 882,028 ha of this expansion will include mountain grasslands and forest ecosystems—important habitat for snow leopards, including northern corridor habitats that will enable population mixing and viability in a transboundary context.

As part of this process, the project will develop the legal articles for the gazettement of the proposed PAs, including their zoning arrangements, management regimes, operational and business plans. These plans will contain clearly defined ecosystem management goals and actions for each new PA.

Crucially, this project will also focus on modernizing and strengthening the management effectiveness and financial sustainability of PAs. Particular focus will be placed on forest management planning that meets the standards for High Conservation Value Forests. Forest zoning, inventory principles, timber and non-timber forest product harvesting regimes, will be modified to ensure maximum protection of biodiversity and soil integrity. International cooperation for law enforcement, monitoring and knowledge sharing will also be supported by this project to promote an integrated, landscape-scale approach to management of habitat for globally significant wildlife in Kazakhstan’s high mountain ecosystems.