Country Profiles

Kazakhstan - Country Profile

Biodiversity Facts

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

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

With a vast territory almost the size of Western Europe, Kazakhstan is endowed with an enormous diversity of mountain ecological systems due to high altitude zones. It has a great diversity of natural conditions, ecosystems and species. Four major ecological systems can be defined: forest (2% of the country), steppe (28%), desert (32%), and mountain (7%). The rest comprises pastures (8%), fallow lands (4%), and agricultural land. Over 6,000 species of higher vascular plants, 5,000 species of mushrooms, 485 species of lichens, 2,000 species of sea weeds, 178 mammal species, 489 bird species, 12 amphibian species, and 104 fish species can be found in Kazakhstan. Mushrooms have a very high rate of endemism (3 endemic genus and 124 endemic species are found in the country). Fossil flora and fauna are also very rich; the Chu-Iliski mountains contain the oldest fossils (dating back 420 million years) discovered on Earth and are thus an important witness to the beginnings of flora on the planet. Many species are endangered, mostly due to habitat destruction and hunting. The Red Data Book of Kazakhstan lists 125 species of vertebrates (15%), 96 species of invertebrates, 287 species of higher plants (4.8%) and 85 species of insects. Rare hoofed animals, despite improved protection quality, are still declining, and the situation is generally critical for many species. These include the Tran Caspian argali (ovis vignel argali), the Kazakhstan argali (ovis ammon collium), saigas (antelopes) and gazelles. Poaching is the main cause of this rapid decline, which stems mainly from poor local communities with little choice for food, however also from groups that are better off socioeconomically.

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

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The main pressures on biodiversity in Kazakhstan are linked to oil and gas extraction; coal extraction; extraction of uranium and other minerals; rock and slag run-off; atmospheric pollution; draining; waste storage; road construction; electric power transmission lines; oil and gas pipelines; channels and water reservoirs; and irrigation. All of these activities contribute to biodiversity loss in a number of different ways, among which are the contamination of water cavities, soils, subsoil water and atmosphere; change in habitat conditions; accumulation of radio nuclides in the biota; contamination of the environment, change of conditions for soils and subsoils; increased habitat toxicity; water contamination; settlement and spreading of invasive species; and accumulation of heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides and defoliants.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The main goals of the NBSAP completed in 1999 related to: in situ conservation of biological diversity; accounting for socioeconomic assessment of the country’s biological capacity and its balanced use in the legal framework; expanding the genetic fund and providing genetic independence and biological security for the country; and establishing conditions for the conservation of the genetic fund of agricultural crop varieties, particularly in regard to agricultural animals, and making agricultural land more productive.

Kazakhstan is currently carrying out activities to revise and update its NBSAP, including setting national targets, with consideration given to the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Targets. The new NBSAP will be anchored in national development frameworks and integrate aspects on, for example, mainstreaming, valuation of ecosystem goods and services, challenges and opportunities linked to ecosystem-based adaptation and resilience, the Kazakhstani model for ecological network development.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Newly-established projects within Kazakhstan are focused on themes such as the integrated conservation of globally significant migratory bird wetland habitat; conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in the Kazakhstani sector of the Altai-Sayan mountain eco-region; in situ conservation of Kazakhstan’s mountain agrobiodiversity; implementation support for transitioning to the concept of “Sustainable Development” in Kazakhstan; conservation and restoration of rare and endangered species of wild ungulates and saiga (2005-2007); conservation and rational use of water resources, wildlife and the development of a network of specially protected natural areas to 2010; Action Plan (2007-2009) for the realization of the State Program on Tourism Development (2007-2011).

In terms of protected areas, over 14.8 million ha (5.44%) of the country’s land surface is under protection, comprised of 9 natural reserves, 4 national parks, 60 reserve plots, 24 nature memorials under republican jurisdiction, 3 zoological parks, 5 botanical gardens, several dendrological parks, 3 water lands recognized to be of international importance by the Ramsar Convention, and 150 water cavities that have state significance. The best represented ecosystems are the mountains (Aksu-Dzhabagly and Alamatinsky reserves). The steppe lakes ecosystems are less well represented (Kurgaldzhinski and Nurzumskyi), however the worst represented ecosystems are the desert and semi-desert ecosystems, which cover more than half of the territory of Kazakhstan. Only a small part of the diversity of the desert ecological system is represented in the Ustyurtskyi and Barsakelmeskyi reserves.

Other projects that have been carried out or are ongoing relate to the creation of conditions for the sustainable use and management of water resources, flora and fauna, specially protected natural areas; expanding the area of specially protected areas by 2008 to 8.5% of the country; establishment of the system of protected natural areas in priority areas, ensuring long-term conservation of biological diversity and sustainable environment; enhancing the protection of landscape and biological diversity of the State, wetlands steppe and semi-desert zones of the plain of Kazakhstan, of global significance for conservation and restoration of populations of rare and endangered plant species, large mammals and birds; development of international cooperation to coordinate the dissemination of information on the range of animals, joint action to safeguard the animals upon arrival of migratory animals to the territory of neighboring countries; and scientific support to environmental protection as an important element in enhancing the effectiveness of the State to identify ways to achieve sustainable development.

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

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The Environmental Code of Kazakhstan, adopted on 9 January 2007, introduced significant changes to the environment protection system in the country. Between 2006 and 2008, Kazakhstan adopted a number of Government documents aimed at, for example, ensuring the environmental sustainability of the national economy, developing new environmentally-balanced policy at the Government, business and NGO levels, enhancing cross-sectoral partnerships, promoting the concept of transition to the sustainable development of Kazakhstan up to 2024.

Pieces of legislation supporting the aims of the CBD include: Forestry Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan (23 January 1993); Water Economy Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan (31 March 1993); Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan on Conservation, Reproduction and Utilization of the Animal (21 October 1993); Decree of the Republic of Kazakhstan, enforced by Law, on Oil (28 June 1995); Decree of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, enforced by Law, on Land (22 December 1995); Decree of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, enforced by Law, on Mineral Wealth and Mineral Wealth Utilization (27 January 1996); Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan on Ecological Expertise (18 March 1997); Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the Protection of the Environment (15 July 1997); Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan on Specially Protected Natural Territories (15 July 1997).

Priority areas for project funding include: sustainable fisheries management, sustainable hunting management, sustainable tourism (development of ecological routes and tourism infrastructure, rural tourism), sustainable use of natural energy sources (renewable energy) as means for improving the efficiency of energy and energy conservation, sustainable agriculture (possible co-financing) in regard to crop production of fruit, horticulture, refining of agroproducts, livestock (processing of livestock products), development of beekeeping, sustainable forest management. Some financial contributions for these priority areas have been received from the Global Environment Facility.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

To be completed by Party.