Country Profiles

Uzbekistan - 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.

Uzbekistan is an arid landlocked country located in the Aral Sea basin of Central Asia, subjected to intensive desertification and droughts. The country’s economic sectors that depend on biodiversity include irrigated agriculture, animal husbandry, forestry, fishery, recreation and tourism. Biodiversity is also linked to sectors and activities that adversely affect it, such as the oil and gas industry, chemical industry, unsustainable water resources management and waste disposal, development of transportation infrastructure and urban systems. Forty-nine percent of the Uzbek population resides in rural areas and depends directly or indirectly on agriculture as a source of livelihood. More than 90% of crops are grown on irrigated land. The main function of forests, which cover only 7% of the territory, is to protect, for example, river basins, create belts to protect from wind and sand and preserve biodiversity. Non-timber forest products, such as walnuts, fruits, cherries, mushrooms and medical herbs significantly contribute to rural livelihoods.

Nowadays, activities linked to agriculture, transhumance and the energy and mining sectors are impacting almost all of the country’s natural ecosystems. Ecosystems are also being seriously impacted by anthropogenic activity and changing hydrological and climatic conditions. Plain, foothill, aquatic and waterside ecosystems have been subjected to the greatest changes of all (this is especially applicable to the lower streams of the main rivers, including the region of the Priaralie and the Aral Sea).

Tugai and flood-plain ecosystems still comprise small areas along the Amudarya, Syrdarya, Zarafshan, Chirchik and Akhangaran rivers; they are however being further reduced due to agricultural development and use by local residents for domestic purposes. Agricultural development has most severely affected the foothill plains and adyrs situated in the foothills of the western Tien Shan and Pamir-Alai mountain ranges. Degraded low mountains and escarpments of the Ustyurt Plateau located in the midst of the desert shelter many rare species however, at the same time, are subjected to pressures from animal husbandry and mining for stone and gypsum, among other mineral resources.

Alpine meadows located at an elevation above 2700 metres above sea level are also subjected to significant pressures from animal husbandry. Wetland ecosystems, such as wastewater lakes and reservoirs, have been the most widespread in the country over the last fifty years, sheltering many sedentary and migratory bird species. While most wetlands are not subjected to the direct threat of extinction, under the country’s arid climate, they are affected by an unsustainable water deficit as well as subjected to degradation during periods of drought.

The saiga (Saiga tatarica) is a critically endangered antelope which was included in the National Red Book in 2009. Its decline has been linked primarily to intensive illegal hunting (males were killed for their horns which disturbed the sex ratio), while other threats to this species include destruction of key habitats and traditional migratory routes.

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 threats to Uzbekistan’s biodiversity are associated with habitat loss and degradation of natural ecosystems; decrease in population size and loss of species (flora and fauna), including economically valuable species; and erosion/loss of genetic diversity and natural resistance of species (to diseases and to climatic changes).

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.

Achievements of Uzbekistan’s first NBSAP, adopted in 1998, relate to the development of a legal framework, expansion of protected areas, development of Medium-Term National Environmental Action Programmes (which draw attention to the concept of mainstreaming sustainable development into economic sectors), education, public awareness-raising, training, scientific research, among other subjects.

Key lessons learned from implementing the NBSAP concern the need to mainstream biodiversity in national development plans, clarify the distribution of responsibilities and funding sources, and integrate NBSAP targets in existing plans and priorities of the country’s economic sectors.

Uzbekistan is currently revising its NBSAP in accordance with the global biodiversity framework and with consideration given to the key lessons learned from implementing the first NBSAP. The country has also adopted ten national targets for implementation by 2025, formulated with the Aichi Biodiversity Targets taken into account, and associated indicators. Uzbekistan’s main strategic directions for biodiversity conservation are to: support and restore ecosystems and key components in productive landscapes to ensure ecosystem services; integrate actions for biodiversity in reformed natural resource management practices; assess the economic values of ecosystem services and biodiversity; expand protected areas coverage (currently at 5% of the total area) and increase the management efficiency of the protected areas system; raise awareness among stakeholders, including the general public, of the significance of biodiversity and ecosystem services and of the contribution they can make towards national development and improving the welfare of the Uzbek people.

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.

Ecological tourism is a promising sector in Uzbekistan with the potential to generate high economic profits. Existing ecotourism programmes that attract international tourists include visits to villages in the Nuratau Mountains, the Zaamin Nature Park, the Zarafshan Nature Reserve, the “Djeiran” Ecological Center and Lake Tudakul. “Uzbektourism” is a national company currently conducting activities aimed at diversifying tourism products, and establishing new means to familiarize and raise public awareness on the status and importance of biodiversity.

A Cabinet Resolution on strengthening demonopolization and privatization of the fishing industry was adopted in 2003, following which the fishing industry was given to leaseholders and the quota on fish catch cancelled. In addition, implementation of a programme on the development of the fishing industry between 2009 and 2011 produced certain positive results, such as increased fish catches in natural water bodies and in the volume of fish stocking in natural water bodies. Uzbekistan recognizes the need to strengthen this positive trend through implementing regular measures to conserve and reproduce fish resources, and introduce fish catching practices in leased water bodies based on quota and scientifically proven assessments.

Actions are being carried out to mainstream the principles of biodiversity conservation in the oil and gas sector, an initiative which is unique in Central Asia. Specific steps are being taken to ensure that appropriate political, legislative and institutional conditions exist for implementing such actions, and to demonstrate technologies for implementing such a system during exploration for oil and gas deposits on the Ustyurt Plateau. Implementation of these measures will ensure the stability of a number of rare and endangered animal species, including the Houbara bustard, caracal, gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa), Ustyurt urial and Saiga antelope.

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 State Committee for Nature Protection has recently developed amendments and supplements to twelve laws to include the principles of biodiversity conservation, and more precisely reflect the principles of “avoid-mitigate-restore-compensate” in activities of the mining sector (including the development of norms and a methodology for identifying an indirect negative impact on flora and fauna).

NBSAP provisions are being integrated into policy documents to an increasingly greater extent. Documents prepared in the last few years, such as the State Programme for National Environmental Monitoring (2011-2015), National Investment Programme (2012-2014), National Welfare Improvement Strategy (2013-2015), and the State Programme for the Improvement of Irrigated Lands (2013-2017), provide evidence of this.

Examples of actions taken towards ex situ conservation include the creation of two nurseries to preserve and breed the Houbara bustard in the Bukhara and Navoi regions, and a centre for the conservation of the Bukhara deer in the Zaravshan Reserve.

An agreement was signed with Kazakhstan on the protection, reproduction and sustainable development of the Saiga antelope for the 2012-2015 period.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

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.

There are several structures used to monitor biodiversity in Uzbekistan at the moment. In addition, Uzbekistan intends to improve the national monitoring system by 2025 so that it is an integral part of biodiversity and ecosystem services management (National Target 1).