Country Profiles

Kyrgyzstan - Country Profile

Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

In general, the loss of biodiversity in Kyrgyzstan is occurring at the ecosystem level, with most ecosystems impacted by human activity to a greater or lesser extent. Ecosystems that have undergone extreme changes include: foothill vegetation complexes, such as the piedmont plain steppe; riparian and wetland ecosystems in the Chui Valley; and the sub-plain community in the arid, semi-arid and desert ecosystems of the Fergana Valley foothills.

A significant number of species found in the country are endangered. According to the Red Book of the Kyrgyz Republic (2007), this applies to 53 bird species, 26 mammal species, 2 amphibian species, 8 reptile species, 7 fish species, 18 arthropod species, 89 species of higher plants and 6 species of fungi. As a result of human activity, some species have disappeared all together. In terms of large- and medium-sized mammals, 3 species have died out and 15 species are under threat. As for bird fauna, 4 species have died out and 26 species are under threat. There is less loss to plant species, with only one species presumably disappeared and 56 species threatened.

Kyrgyzstan’s mountainous terrain accommodates livestock farming which constitutes the country’s main agricultural sector. Natural grasslands (pastures and hayfields) provide the main source of feed for livestock, with amounts varying from 60% to 89% of the total feed required depending on the region. These pastures are notably rich in food plants and as such form the basis of forage that is high in nutrient content; they moreover provide plentiful medicinal herbs (more than 200 types), in addition to honey herbs.

Forests cover a relatively small area of the country (5.62%) and comprise juniper, fir, spruce-fir, small-leaved, walnut, maple and low pistachio forests. Among these, walnut and spruce-fir forests are unique and globally important (walnut forests are a source of genetic resources, such as wild walnuts, apples, pears, grapes and plums, which can be used to develop new varieties of fruit plants; fir is one of the dominant endemic species of Kyrgyzstan).

Kyrgyzstan intends to stimulate ecotourism development with the participation of the local populations and the objective to preserve local culture and biodiversity.

The country has only recently begun to conduct valuation studies of the various components of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

Foothill and mountain communities are impacted by overgrazing. Moreover, the increase in the number of livestock and the lack of interventions to improve natural grasslands, have over the years created loads on pastures that exceed environmentally sound standards. All types of pastures are under threat at present; this is particularly significant in view of the fact that most of the population depends on livestock farming for their livelihoods. Forest ecosystems are impacted by human activity at a level which is increasing from year to year through expansion of human settlements, illegal cutting of forests for firewood, cattle grazing, among other factors. The country’s aquatic ecosystems are affected by pollution and changes in water flows.

The main threat to the biodiversity of invertebrates is associated to impacts from human activity which has led to ecosystem degradation and habitat reduction. Large- and medium-sized mammals mainly suffer from poaching. Fish fauna are affected by overfishing and changes resulting from the acclimatization of alien species.

The number of companies engaged in mining is increasing on a yearly basis and their activities significantly threaten the biodiversity of the country’s mountain ecosystems. This relates to opencast (gold) mining which impacts on terrestrial ecosystems; oil production which is a potential hazard as a source of environmental pollution; and uranium tailings (resulting from uranium mining) located in seismic, geodynamic and active mountain-folded regions of the Tien Shan mountains, directly on water catchment areas and “hanging” over densely populated valleys.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

Kyrgyzstan’s biodiversity conservation priorities for 2014-2024 have been formulated with the current Strategic Plan for Biodiversity taken into account. These priorities have been translated into four strategic targets focused on: 1) integrating biodiversity conservation issues into the activities of State bodies and public organizations by 2020; 2) reducing the impact on biodiversity and promoting its sustainable use; 3) improving the protection and monitoring of ecosystems and species diversity; and 4) improving the social importance of biodiversity and ecosystem services, increasing the benefits of sustainable ecosystem services and traditional technologies. Under these strategic targets, 13 objectives are distributed, together with associated actions, implementation timeframes, parties responsible for implementation (including local self-governance authorities, local state administrations, and city administrations on agreement), costs, funding sources, implementation arrangements and expected outputs. The total cost of implementation is estimated at 1076687,8 Soms. A short-term evaluation of implementation of the Action Plan will be carried out in 2020 and 2024. A group of independent experts will be convened to determine the effectiveness of implementation.

Although completed in 1998, Kyrgyzstan’s first NBSAP was not adopted. A second NBSAP was adopted in 2002 for the 2002-2006 period whose achievements can be linked to: SPNA expansion; the annual planting of 3000 hectares of forests; the publication of the first national forest inventory for 2008-2010, including the creation of a database; the enhancement of the legal framework for biodiversity protection; and, since 2005, the integration of the principles of sustainable development in the country’s educational system.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

While Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) are conducted in some areas, such as mining, they are not being implemented to the extent necessary. In most cases, fines and penalties are issued for harm done to the environment. Positive incentives have not been developed yet.

There is a positive trend regarding the expansion of the network of specially protected natural areas (SPNA) which today covers 1.2 million hectares or 6% of the national territory (Kyrgyzstan intends to further increase coverage to 10% by 2024). However, deterioration in the conservation status of SPNAs is common due to the location of human settlements within their boundaries, the absence of a mechanism for ecotourism development, among other factors.

The gene bank for the conservation of cultivated plants and their wild ancestors has been created however is in the initial stage of implementation. Strategies for minimizing genetic erosion and conserving the genetic diversity of the most important species are absent.

With support from some projects, State agencies and local communities are planting forests and woody plants which contribute to increasing carbon fixation. However, activities to restore degraded ecosystems have not begun yet.

While a law on the protection of traditional knowledge was adopted in 2007, it is being poorly implemented (local communities do not participate in the implementation process).

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

While there are many conflicting laws and large gaps in legislation related to biodiversity, gradual improvements are occurring. Recently, on 3 May 2013, a decree was adopted which determines the rate of payment for the illegal destruction of rare and endemic species. In addition, the country is currently working on the creation of legislation on access to genetic resources. Kyrgyzstan is a Party to the Nagoya Protocol on ABS.

Although the rate of mobilization of financial resources is gradually increasing, these resources remain insufficient. Moreover, existing resources are not always used effectively.

The Agenda of the Kyrgyz Republic for the XXI Century was developed by experts from the State Agency on Environment Protection and Forestry (SAEPF), with support provided by UNEP and UNDP. The agenda focuses on transitioning to the concept of sustainable development, a main feature of which is the attainment of environmental sustainability and the rational use of natural resources through the economic use of non-renewable resources and the sustainable use of renewable resources.

Article 13 of the National Poverty Reduction Strategy (2003-2005) addresses environmental management and the sustainable use of natural resources. The Country Development Strategy (2009-2011) aims to improve the quality of life for the population through increased economic growth and improved environmental quality, and underscores the importance of sectoral and cross-sectoral partnerships.

Kyrgyzstan is a signatory to the Central Asian Framework Convention on Environmental Protection for Sustainable Development established in 2006. It is also a participant in the Central Asian Countries Initiative for Land Management (CACILM) which aims to combat land degradation and sustainably manage the natural resources of the country, including conserving biodiversity.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

A mechanism for monitoring and reviewing implementation of the NBSAP does not exist at the moment. However, this issue is being addressed under the third strategic target of the new NBSAP on improving the protection and monitoring of ecosystems and species diversity.