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Turkmenistan - Country Profile

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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.

Turkmenistan is occupied by deserts (80%) and forests (20%), possesses a significant level of endemic biodiversity, and is noted as one of the global centers of genetic diversity. Also, according to the World Wildlife Fund, the territory exists within the limits of one of the 200 global environmental regions identified as conservation priorities. The mountain ecosystems of Kopetdag, Koytendag and Badhyz, while occupying less than 5% of the country’s territory, are biodiversity hotspots with naturally isolated refuges for the most ancient biological and cultural/historical relics. Overall, the country has 3,140 higher plants and 3,924 lower plants and about 13,000 animal species, including 683 vertebrates (two-thirds of which are concentrated in the mountains and foothills). Regarding agricultural ecosystems, 172 species of wild relatives of vegetative cultures remain, including 40 breeds of fruit crops and leguminous plants.

In spite of intensive conservation efforts carried out in recent years, many species of flora and fauna have disappeared. At present, the population sizes of species, such as the Small Amudarya Shovel-Nose Sturgeon (Pseudoscaphirhynchus hermanni), Kugitang Blind Trout (Nemacheilus starostini), Marbled Teal (Anas angustirostris), Pallas’ Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leocoryphus), Caspian Snowcock (Tetraogallus caspius), and many others are very low. A reduction in the number of certain species can have tremendous consequences, as is the case with the Front-Asian Leopard, whose rarefaction has negatively impacted the environmental functions of the whole biota, thus influencing biodiversity in a broad sense through the “domino effect”.

Especially evident is a trend illustrating a decline in species diversity among many groups of waterfowl of the Turkmen Caspian sea coast and, to a certain extent, among wintering birds whose population dropped from 424,147 units in 1996 to 147,119 in 2004. Major trends of biodiversity decline are also clearly reflected in the National Red Data Book (1999), where 261 species (152 animals and 109 plants) are registered as critically endangered or as having “rare” status (the latter being applicable most notably to vertebrates with a total of 107 species). Species classified as endangered or under the threat of disappearance include 17 species of animals and 28 plants. Finally, 119 species of fauna – insects (7), whelks (1), actinopterygian fishes (22), reptiles (4), mammals (62), birds (23) – and 11 endangered arboreal plants are included in the latest edition of the IUCN International Red List (2007).

Due to the absence of an assessment mechanism for protected areas, including for assessing the environmental and recreational services they contribute to the country’s economy and culture, both the obvious and hidden benefits resulting from biodiversity conservation have not yet been entirely discovered. Further, a number of sectors of the economy (e.g. forestry, agriculture, hunting, tourism) actively utilize the values of biological diversity without having yet conducted economic assessments of these benefits.

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 and pressures on biodiversity in Turkmenistan include habitat degradation, invasive alien species, excessive consumption of natural resources, environmentally-insecure oil and natural gas exploration and production, and climate change.

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 Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (BSAP) (2002-2010) for Turkmenistan was prepared by the Ministry of Nature Protection, together with UNDP. It includes a number of strategic approaches to biodiversity conservation and integration, enumerating 12 national target tasks, such as improving forest protection and investing in capacity-building for scientific institutions. In the 2002-2008 period, the country implemented 49% of all planned BSAP activities.

The BSAP was revised within the context of the UNDP/GEF Project “Monitoring and Assessment of the Effectiveness of NBSAP Implementation” and published in 2008.

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.

At present, specimens of 135 types of animals and 71 plants (representing 78.9% of the total number) are protected under existing reserves and sanctuaries, with the total area of specially protected areas consisting of almost 4% of the country’s total land area. While this figure does not meet the objective set by the country for 2008 (6%) or the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Target (17% for terrestrial and 10% for marine and coastal areas), Turkmenistan’s plan is to establish a protected areas network and increase coverage to 30.8% in the long term. Legislation has also been introduced for protecting national parks and biosphere reserves, which includes provisions for adjoining territories, development approaches and restrictions on activities in these areas. Management plans have been developed for reserves in Repetek, Amudarya and Syunt-Hasardag. Fifty key international ornithological territories have been identified and described in Turkmenistan, covering all natural ecosystems in the country, as well as occupying 7% of its territory (with one-third connected to protected areas to varying extents).

Documents have been prepared regarding the nomination of a number of sites as “natural world heritage”. Further, the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation has been implemented. Biodiversity conservation is also provided for through various programs and projects. For instance, the National Gene Bank has a collection of 270 samples of wheat (including 42 ancient native local breeds and 144 samples of barley). Further, a national wildlife museum currently under construction will represent the majority of endemic species. Projects are being implemented for protecting species (e.g. koulan, leopard, red deer) with some positive trends having already been reported. The leopard population of Kopetdag increased from 70-75 individuals in 1999 to 85-90 at present. Further, the extinction of species, such as the cobra, has been prevented through restoration efforts. Similarly, enhanced studies on the age structure of the seal population, its biological features, population size, patterns of seasonal food consumption, and causes of death have made it possible to eliminate some threats to the seal population in the Caspian Sea. Finally, a list of key invasive species has been developed and measures are in place to control their pathways.

Overall, the use of natural resources is reduced through the creation and provision of alternatives to support local community livelihood. Traditional knowledge related to livestock breeding, horse breeding and dry farming is preserved and handed down from generation to generation, however its preservation is not yet reflected in any of the existing legislation. However, the new Customs Code of Turkmenistan will be supplemented by a section detailing procedure, measures and responsibilities related to the violation of intellectual property rights (traditional knowledge) at the border.

Local populations are also highly involved in biodiversity management, notably in the framework of the “New Village” program, where a new system of market relations has been formed, with farmers becoming the main engine in implementing food programs. At present, the country’s agronomic sector is represented by 497 daykhan (peasant) associations, with about 83% (1.5 million hectares) of irrigated land available to about 400,000 farmers and private individuals.

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.

Turkmenistan has developed a number of strategic documents highlighting the importance of biodiversity management and sustainable development (e.g. National Strategy for Socioeconomic Development to 2010 (1999), National Strategy for Economic, Political and Cultural Development to 2020 (2003), National Strategy on Economic Revival and Reform to 2030 (2008), National Environmental Action Plan (NEAP) (2002), National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (BSAP) (2002) and the National Caspian Action Plan (NCAP) (2007)). Cross-sectoral initiatives are provided for in, for example, the country’s Forest Code, currently under revision; environmental impact assessments, required by a number of laws and included in the NEAP and NBSAP; ecotourism development in protected areas, with relevant laws in place to encourage the involvement of local communities. In 2007, the territory of the Turkmen Caspian sea sector known as “Avaza" was declared the first operating free tourist zone. In addition, international cooperation at various levels (Central Asia, Caspian Sea, etc.) now addresses biodiversity in various programs.

Nevertheless, the mainstreaming of biodiversity into relevant sectors remains an overall challenge in Turkmenistan. It is recognized that collaboration among the different ministries and agencies in regard to biodiversity issues requires considerable enhancement. As a response, the Clearing-House Mechanism (CHM) has been put in place with a view to creating an enabling environment for developing sectoral strategies and plans aimed at minimizing adverse influences on biodiversity through enhanced collaboration and information exchange. In addition, the key task of the Ministry of Nature Protection (MNP) is to ensure that the CHM or the “National Information Center on Biodiversity” functions as an efficient tool for international cooperation and reporting to the CBD.

Out of the 36 projects implemented in the field of biodiversity between 2000 and 2007, 18 have been supported by GEF and 9 by the WWF. External financial support through international grants, together with budgetary financing, has notably enabled the enhancement of the protected areas system and the publication of the Red Data Book of Turkmenistan, while separate BSAP actions have been financed by international donors.

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.

The key monitoring mechanism in the country is the national biodiversity monitoring system which is a component of the Clearing-house Mechanism, with state reserves and sanctuaries serving as support units for the system. Turkmenistan has also established long-term interstate cooperation with, for example, the regional system of environmentally-interrelated natural territories (ECONET) and key ornithological territories (COT) for monitoring biodiversity at the ecosystem level, with plans to introduce biodiversity parameters for monitoring the negative impacts of climate change on biodiversity.

The development of an integrated program for biodiversity monitoring and a uniform methodology for regular data collection from different economic sectors, in regard to their impact on biodiversity, are also required. Finally, attention should be given to further developing national indicators so that they meet the standards of the global indicators.

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  • United Nations Environment Programme