Transboundary Cooperation for Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Conservation

PROJECT TITLETransboundary Cooperation for Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Conservation
COUNTRYGlobal (with focus on Central Asia)
IMPLEMENTING AGENCYUnited Nations Development Programme
GEF FUNDING$1,000,000


Just as wildlife does not stay neatly inside the boundaries of formally protected conservation areas, neither does a species confine itself to one side of an international border. Populations range freely across entire landscapes of suitable habitat, unaware of the social, political or cultural boundaries imposed by humans. This fact is particularly relevant to those concerned with the conservation of snow leopards, given that as much as one-third of all snow leopard range is located on or less than 100 km from an international border.

Efforts to protect snow leopards and their habitats must respond to unique challenges of snow leopard habitats that physically transverse two or more countries’ borders, including the Altai, Tian Shan, and Himalayan mountain ranges. The countries, cultures and languages may be different, but the threats facing snow leopards, high mountain people groups and those in downstream regions are the same. Knowledge sharing is a core component of the transboundary approach, communicating successes, failures, and scientific data so that countries can learn from each others’ experiences.

Joint planning and implementation of conservation initiatives across ecological rather than political landscapes are also essential. Countries involved in cross-border projects collaborate to determine an equitable division of financial and management responsibilities.

A regional initiative to advance transboundary cooperation in snow leopard range countries is implemented by the Snow Leopard Trust and the GSLEP Secretariat in close collaboration with a consortium of national and international  GSLEP partners. The project, launched in 2016, includes a focus on strengthening transboundary conservation of snow leopard ecosystems by addressing drivers of existing and emerging threats with a focus on Central Asia. Its two-pronged approach involves:

  1. generating and sharing knowledge for transboundary landscapes
  2. establishing global and national monitoring frameworks.

The project will help ensure that key stakeholders have sufficient knowledge and tools to protect stable snow leopard populations in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, while supporting the Sarychat/Central Tien Shan mountain range that includes two snow leopard landscapes that share boundaries between Kyrgyz Republic and Kazakhstan.

A major component of the project is to develop a Global Toolkit for transboundary cooperation of snow leopard ecosystems. The project will also train wildlife, PA, border and customs agencies in the targeted countries and the pilot transboundary landscape, as well as  supporting international cooperation in combating illegal trade in snow leopards and their prey.

The project will also develop a global monitoring framework for snow leopard ecosystems using standard indicators to ensure harmonized monitoring mechanisms for snow leopards, their prey and their mountain ecosystems. A spatial GIS database will be established to hold information from the common monitoring framework, and develop sustainable land management measures for the Sarychat / Central Tien Shan pilot landscape.

By strengthening the capacity of national and local stakeholders for transboundary cooperation the project will aid in the conservation of snow leopards and their habitats, delivering the many benefits that those ecosystems provide—locally, nationally and globally.

Reports on meetings, workshops and studies conducted under the project: