Special report of visiting the Aral sea, Kazakhstan- بازدید از دریاچه آرال‎ (اردیبهشت 1396)

Kazakhstan, Kyzylorda, ‎/ 21-25 May 2017  

1. Background

Working Party 1.01.13 and the IUFRO Working Group 1.06.00 co-organized the Business Meeting on “Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism (FLRM) for developing the next phase of the current project in Northeast and Central Asia” during the IUFRO-AO Congress held in Beijing in October 2016. At the Meeting, the experts from CA countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan), DPR of Korea, Mongolia, FAO, NIFoS and NEAFF participated. FAO introduced the FLRM sponsored by Korea Forest Service, which is a holistic approach working for restoring degraded landscapes in a balance of the ecological, social, economic and cultural benefits of forests and trees securing human wellbeing, and mentioned that FAO has a plan to develop FLRM projects in Central Asia in 2017 and it is necessary to develop the project contents in the regional level. The participants from CA countries commonly addressed the socioeconomic issues caused from deforestation, forest degradation and land degradation. NIFoS and NEAFF suggested convening the workshop in the first half year of 2017 to discuss those issued deeply and collaboratively develop the regional project contents to settle those challenges, inviting the relevant stakeholders from 5 CA countries and experts from neighboring countries as well.

2. Goal/Objectives

The goal of this workshop is to make the Project Proposal in relation to regional cooperation for land degradation neutrality and sustainable development in Central Asia, to be submitted to AFoCO, ADB, FAO, GEF etc. In order to achieve this goal, this workshop has the following objectives:

To share the successful cases and challenges/lessons learned by each country on combating land degradation and improving local livelihood (in case of Kazakhstan, it will be shared the Aral Sea case with field visit);

To discuss the scope and contents of the regional project in Central Asia; and

To develop the draft concept note on the regional project proposal for Central Asia.


Report of my visiting the Aral Sea, Kazakhstan

Aral project

Aral Sea problem like many lakes and swamps is the result of mismanagement of water resources. Once, Aral Sea was full of water and big rivers like the Amu Darya and Syr Darya led to the Aral, all people think that how can used the water for agricultural expansion and how it can be prevented from waste water. So No one thought that if the water does not reach the Aral Sea what is dangerous consequences await them.

Now a large part of the Aral Sea dried up, Environmental problems and dust storms has been revealed. On the other hand, with the construction of dams and diversion of water from the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers and agriculture in the upper this Great Lake, the farmers have used water for their farms for several decades. In this case the government could not prevents or to force people to release the water into the Aral Sea, because he will be faced with mass protests certainly.


What should they do?

In my idea this project must be run into 2 section: schedule in the medium term (5 years) and long term (10 years). In the medium-term projects, In addition to the usual studies of similar projects, it must be done two major issues: (1) water resources and climate change, and (2): social and economic issues. It should be changes of Aral Sea environmental during the last few years. At the same time agricultural, use of water resources and climate change that can affect in both issues must be study.

During the workshop visit from a part of the Aral Sea, There were two things that attracted my attention.

1- Well natural vegetation cover and dense in some parts of the lake.

2- Haloxylon pests and diseases.  Almost all of them were sick, even some of them were dried.

*- Certainly natural vegetation in the bottom of the lake is dependent on the moisture content of the lake bed. Therefore, decline in groundwater levels and global warming and climate change is a major risk for the loss of this species in the future. So, the humidity should be maintained in any way that one way is bringing water to the lake.

*- Drying haloxylon should be taken seriously. If the situation is the same, all haloxylon‎ will dry and disappear soon. To do so urgent it is suggested two solutions.

*- Because in the natural environment should not be spraying toxin. So it should be haloxylon infested branches are cut off and away from the area.

But to prevent wind erosion that may occur after this subject, It is necessary remain and not to be cut some rows from the haloxylon as for perpendicular to the prevailing wind direction and play role of wind break for soil conservation (for areas that have been cut haloxylon). Haloxylon that have been cut, will grow during two to three years like the past but as healthy and younger and better than in the past. If they want to be no cost to government, they can give to people cutting and collected twigs of haloxylon and experts only have had Supervision and monitor it.

*- In Iran this act is named; “rejuvenation of Haloxylon”. The haloxylon that are old and have more 15-20 years old and are going to drying, were cut on the floor. and just over two years do the growth is very nice and refreshed to continue his life. So there is no risk for cutting haloxylon.

*- In the case of water; Certainly it will be difficult. Because dealing the government is with the people and farmer. Due to the abundance of water, farmers cultivate and work in any way they like. Even in areas where the evaporation is more than 2000 mm and the rainfall is less than 200 mm, they are farming rice. This means losses of water, while the Aral Sea has dried up and disappears next to them

In this case, there are two basic solutions to save water that should be pay attention to it

*- The first is improving the efficiency of irrigation and second Improve production efficiency (the amount of water consumed to produce one kilogram of product).

In Kyzyl Orda, I asked the experts. Annual water volume of Syr Darya is about 20 billion cubic meters and about 18.5 billion cubic meters are used for farming and 1.5 billion cubic meters goes to Aral Sea.

*- In Uzbekistan, Annual water volume of Amu Darya is about 40 billion cubic meters. All of water consumes for farming and no water reach to Aral Sea. If irrigation efficiency increases by 5 to 10 percent, large volumes of water would be saved and it can provide a part of the Aral Sea ecological needs.

As I told before other important strategies that should be considered is production efficiency. For example, efficiency of production in Iran is about one kg, while the unit in the world is about 2 to 2.5 kg. This means that if we can increase PE only 0.25%  we will can save a quarter of water.

*- In Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan with high volumes of water in Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers If they can increase PE only 0.25% they will can save 10-15 billion cubic meter of water. This can provide a large amount of water rights to the Aral Sea. Finally they should be used species or farming that they require little irrigation, of course if they want, this means to prefer the public interests (Central Asia) over individual interests (every Countries’) and this is very important.

End of discourse:

Desertification and land degradation is a common problem in Central Asia. It is necessary that all the countries have cooperation and collaborate together to revive the Aral Sea. Certainly, In this case, its benefits will be reached to all countries, and it will create a favorable environment for them.

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