The Altyn Dala Conservation Initiative aims to restore large steppe areas in Kazakhstan to their natural state. Today, the Initiative has been awarded a “World Restoration Flagship” by the United Nations. As one of Altyn Dala’s partners, we are proud to have contributed to the success of the project.
Altyn Dala – a model of restoration
There is no life without functioning ecosystems. Or, to put it another way, the more intact our planet’s ecosystems are and remain, the better it is for us, humans. That’s why the United Nations Environment Programme, together with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), last year declared the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration that lasts until 2030.
Fortunately, there are very good examples of how ecosystem restoration can succeed.
Today, Tuesday 13 December 2022, in a virtual gala during COP 15 in Montreal, the UN Environment Programme recognized the Altyn Dala Conservation Initiative as one of ten “World Restoration Flagships.” Altyn Dala’s goal is to re-establish full functional ecosystems of the steppe in a vast area of central Kazakhstan, thereby safeguarding the habitat range of saiga antelope population found there.
There were 150 applications submitted to the UN, with ten World Restoration Flagship regions awarded at the Biodiversity Conference currently taking place in Montreal.
Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan, whose director Vera Voronova is particularly pleased with the award. “We at ACBK, the only national conservation organization in Kazakhstan, are aware of the immense support we receive from international partners and our close collaboration with the Kazakhstan government, and it is very inspiring that our initiative is now on a stage with the most ambitious conservation projects on earth,” says Vera.
Kazakhstan’s temperate grassland ecosystems are home to a rich diversity of wildlife, but most notably the largest population of saiga antelope, which was nearly wiped out in the early 2000s. Since the founding of the Altyn Dala Conservation Initiative in 2006, the Initiative has made it its mission to bring back the species and has done so very successfully. “However, we are aware that our work is not yet done,” says Vera Voronova. “We will continue to invest in the sustainability of the vast Kazakh steppe and its contribution to climate change mitigation for the region and the planet as a whole.”
The Altyn Dala Conservation Initiative is spearheaded in Kazakhstan by ACBK with financial and technical support from Fauna & Flora International (FFI), Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), and the Royal Society for Protection of Birds, and in partnership with the Kazakh government’s Committee for Forestry and Wildlife, part of the Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources.