275. The environmental stability of the country depends on the condition of its ecosystems and on how the population uses plant, animal, mineral and other natural resources. During 1999-2001 the environmental situation in the Kyrgyz Republic deteriorated, reflecting economic problems that provoked the population, in particular inhabitants of poor rural areas, to severely exploit natural resources (forest felling, poaching, intensive use of arable land, ignoring ameliorative and other measures), in ways that resulted in further deterioration of the situation. Nevertheless, unique landscapes have been preserved in the Republic that have not been seriously affected by such activities, and that, in addition, have an economic value since they represent a particular commodity of international importance, the price of which will be increasing.
276. Reflecting natural and climatic conditions, out of 199.9 thousand km2 of the total area of the Republic, only 30 percent is fit for permanent habitation, while only 20 percent comprises areas of relatively comfortable conditions where the majority of the population lives. The main concerns are raised by the condition and used of the resources vitally important to the Republic – water resources, land, fauna and flora, forests and specifically protected territories.
277. The fresh water of Kyrgyzstan is a vitally important resource for sustainable development. Fresh water reserves are significant: the Republic has about 50 cubic kilometers of surface river run-off, 13 cubic kilometers of potential underground water storage, 1,745 cubic kilometers of lake water, 650 cubic kilometers of glaciers. Actually, only 12-17 percent of the existing surface and underground run-off is used. At the same time, total losses make up about 23 percent because of imperfect irrigation networks, intensive irrigation methods and for other reasons. There are 7,628 glaciers and snowfields in the Republic, occupying 4.1 percent of its territory. They contribute to the run-off of 5 independent river basins. The glaciers of Kyrgyzstan are accumulators of pure fresh waters, influence the climate, reduce air temperature, increase precipitation, as well as being the objects of esthetic, sportive and recreational use. Reduction in the size of the glaciers and permafrost of Tien-Shan ranges started in the second half of the XIX century, but this process has become especially active during the past 30 years.
278. The most dangerous factor that has resulted in the depletion and degradation of water resources, especially of potable water – a strategic resource – is pollution by various chemical and organic substances. Increasing volumes of dangerously polluted waters containing nitrites, chlorides, chromium, sulfates, oil and oil products are discharged into open water reservoirs and watercourses without any treatment. The volume of discharge of polluted waste water has significantly increased and sewage disposal in 2001 amounted to 11.8 million m3, compared with 3.8 million m3 in the year 2000. The most acute problem is pollution of underground water of the Chui, Osh and Jalal-Abad oblasts. The major reason for pollution of underground water reserves is the absence of proper sanitary protection of water intake zones or non-observance of standards by economic activities in these zones.
279. Significant problems arise from the lack of development of the regulatory and legal framework regarding water use and the ineffective functioning of associations of water users. There is no clearly defined national strategy on water use. Advanced irrigation technologies are introduced slowly.
280. Deterioration of public utilities, especially in rural areas, has resulted in declining living standards and aggravation of the social situation. Only 56 percent of the total number of cities, towns and rayon center in the Republic has centralized sewerage networks with treatment facilities. At present, there are 350 sewerage treatment facilities in the Republic of which only 30 percent comply with sanitary requirements, 40 percent do not function completely. At the same time, the effectiveness of sewerage treatment is low and does not satisfy standard requirements. A noticeable lag in the development of systems supporting vital activities has had a significant impact on the sanitary and epidemiological and environmental situation in the regions. Many populated areas of the Republic lack water supply networks, while the supply of potable water to the population provides only 15-20 percent of the needed volume. Use of water from open water sources results in disease. In urban areas, 90.2 percent of the population has access to tap water, while in rural area, only 19 percent. Only 15 percent of the population has access to sewerage networks. In 2001 the volume of capital investment for protection and rational use of water resources as compared to 2000 decreased by 1.4 million soms and totaled 6.0 million soms.
281. Rational use of land resources, reclamation of soil fertility, regulation of land relations are dictated by one of the nation’s priorities – ensuring food independence and food security under the conditions of a grave scarcity of land resources. There are only 0.26 hectares of arable land per capita, hardly enough to provide for the minimal food requirement of a typical citizen. A necessary legal basis has been established for sustainable rational land use in Kyrgyzstan. Private land ownership has been introduced and experience has been gained on distribution and transfer of natural pastureland to be leased by local communities responsible for the condition of pastures and the degree of their degradation, rotation and reclamation. Nevertheless, crop capacity of arable land is declining every year.
282. Out of 10.6 million hectares of agricultural land, more than 88 percent is recognized as degraded and subjected to desertification. The area of secondary soil salinity makes up 75 percent of the total arable land of the Republic. Kyrgyzstan acceded to the UN Convention on Fighting Desertification and developed and Action Plan to fight desertification. Agricultural land that is used and owned by agricultural commodity producers occupies 5,788.0 thousand hectares, of which 888.0 thousand hectares are irrigated land. Privately owned land comprises 1,242. 0 thousand hectares, communal property land 55.0 thousand hectares and state-owned land 9.0 thousand hectares. In 2001 the volume of capital investments for protection and rational use of land resources decreased by 15.2 million soms, compared to 2000 and totaled 40.4 million soms.
283. Degradation of pasture is a serious problem in the Republic. The total area of natural pastureland is 8.9 million hectares. Types of vegetation used as natural forage crops are extremely diversified and differ in terms of crop yield. According to available data, the average cropping capacity of grassland decreased by 14 percent during the period from the 1970s to the 1990s. A significant part (about 25 percent) of pastureland is affected by medium or high-level degradation. Degradation of grassland results in the extinction of certain types of vegetation sensitive to grazing, loss of peculiar mountain landscapes and depletion of biodiversity and the gene bank. In addition, pastureland erosion promotes water erosion, irreversible in mountain country. The abrupt reduction of the number of cattle in the Republic that has taken place in recent years did not solve environmental problems connected with cattle gazing. Removal of the cattle overburden effected only distant pastures where peasants and small farms do not take their cattle. At present, cattle are grazed mainly in spring and autumn village pastures that currently experience an even more excessive burden than they did in earlier periods. Such a disproportion of cattle distribution over pastures results in further degradation of village pastures. This, in turn, results in a decreasing number of cattle, reduction of milk and meat yields, that affect the financial situation of the population and is directly related to the poverty of the population living in these areas.
284. Although Kyrgyzstan occupies only 0.13 percent of the earth’s surface, the country is inhabited by about 3 percent of the world fauna, and more than 7,400 types of plants grow here. The countryside is characterized by a large variety of topographic forms - from mountain ranges covered with glaciers to river valleys with a hot arid climate. There are flora and fauna endemics that are peculiar only for this type of territory; the total number of endemics is 230 species. This indicator is higher than average for Central Asia, which demonstrates that the country is noted for a large variety of biological species. Out of 4,500 plant species, 300 wild species are classified as rare ones and are endangered species, of which 125 species are endemics, and 200 species are of valuable medicinal herbs.
285. The Red Book of the Republic protects 71 species of plants, 32 species of birds, 3 reptile species, 2 fish species, 19 specifies of insects, 12 species of mammals. Since 1985 the Red Book was supplemented by 10 plant species, 1 fish specie, 11 species of birds, 4 species of mammals and 13 species of insects, which attest a continuous reduction of biodiversity because of human pressure. Kyrgyzstan has signed the Convention on Biological Diversity, developed a set of laws to support biodiversity and at present is implementing a cross-border project on preservation of biodiversity of the Western Tien-Shan ranges, supported by TACIS. The project, Preservation of the Snow Leopard, is being implemented (since January 1999) jointly with the German Nature Protection Union (NABU); a special task group, “Bars”, has been established. The major goal of this project is to protect the snow leopard and other endangered animals. As well, it is planned to establish a scientific station in the biosphere territory of Issyk-Kul under this project.
286. It is difficult to be overstate the importance of forests for Kyrgyzstan, as it is source of the flow of fresh water for the whole Central Asia. Forests are the basis for sustainable formation and preservation of fresh water resources, helping to reduce the risk of landslides and mudflows, as well as being the source for development and preservation of biodiversity of mountain territories. During the past 20 years, 50 percent of forests have been exterminated in the Republic so that at present the forests of the country cover only 4.25 percent of the land. A clear tendency of forest aging can be observed. The aging process forestalls the process of forest renewal and at present the area of mature and overmature forests is 49.9 percent or 350.3 thousand hectares of the total territory covered by forests. Overmature forests are a major factor for vermin spreading and disease development. If timely forest protecting measures are not taken it may result in countrywide spreading of natural focuses of disease on a catastrophic scale. Unique surviving fruit-and-nut forests are under threat.
287. The difficult economic situation of the transition period intensified human impact on forests. Unauthorized felling, uncontrolled cattle grazing, resulting in degradation of soil and vegetation cover, have had a destructive effect on natural forest renewal, leading to the reduction of forest territories. In Kyrgyzstan, where more than 60 percent of the population lives in rural area, the impact of human activities is one of the major factors negatively affecting forests. Thus, changes in agricultural policy have resulted in increased numbers of private cattle grazing on grassland adjacent to villages, and often in forests, including fruit and nut forests.
Although the Republic has good potential for the production of hydropower, a sharp increase in electricity generation is not expected within the nearest future. As a result, local population is unable to buy expensive fuel and in a majority of cases firewood is the only solution to this problem. For example, 13 thousand people harvest not less than 20 thousand cubic meters of wood for their own needs in the Arstanbap-Ata forest area. Such a situation should not be allowed to persist, as the Republic has great opportunities to use non-traditional and renewable energy sources (NTRES). The use of the energy of sun, wind, small rivers and chutes, as well as the products of livestock waste processing, including production of biogas and organic fertilizers, can become an effective method of poverty alleviation in the Republic, taking into account practically unlimited energy resources. The use of ecologically pure NTRES would provide remote areas with electric and thermal power, and to restore village infrastructure (schools, clubs, bathhouses). By using biogas, farmers’ associations would be able not only to produce gas and fertilizers for their own needs, but also to sell any surplus to the population.
288. The Republic is among 200 priority ecological regions of the planet. Specifically protected natural territories have a well developed network and cover, basically, all types of ecosystems of the Tien-Shan and the Pamir-Altai ranges. According to the classification adopted by the International Nature Protection Union, specifically protected natural territories of the Republic are divided into 4 categories, which include reserves, national and natural parks and natural monuments with a total area of about 850 hectares.
289. Since 1997, within the framework of the UNESCO international program, Man and the Biosphere, the Republic has been implementing a project on the establishment of a specifically protected biosphere territory, Issyk-Kul, in cooperation with the German Center of Technical Cooperation. In September 2001, Kyrgyzstan became the 91st country officially recognized by the UNESCO. In 2001, the project Regional Cooperation in the Sphere of Mountain Development in Central Asia, was implemented with technical assistance provided by the Asian Development Bank and the Government of Switzerland. National Strategies and Action Plans of Central Asian countries (Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and the Xing Jian autonomous region of China), were developed at the national and regional levels, a draft of the Central Asian Mountain Charter was developed, which is planned to be signed in August 2002. In recent years, given the importance of above mentioned priority directions, the Republic has ratified 9 international Conventions in the area of environment protection and started to revise the regulatory framework in the area of environment protection for the purpose of harmonization legislation on nature protection with international approaches.
290. The major principle underlying the strategy for stabilizing the use of nature is a comprehensive rationalization of the use of natural resources without any damage to sustainable long-term development. Methods of water use and land cultivation with a view to biodiversity preservation should be beneficial for all strata of society, in particular the poor. In this regard, as envisaged under CDF, the International Year of Mountains and the Year of Tourism, a set of measures have been implemented, aimed at stabilizing the environment.
291. A comprehensive approach is required when attempting to solve the problems of environment protection. Thus, in the area of protection of natural resources:
· In 2001, within the technical assistance support of the ADB and the Government of Finland, the second phase of the project, Environmental Monitoring and Strengthening of Management Capacity, was started; its implementation will allow for a boarder approach to resolving environmental problems, to focus efforts on management and allocation of limited natural resources. In addition, within the framework of this project, the issues on poverty reduction are being considered along with ecological impediments affecting poverty reduction; strategies connecting actions on environmental protection and poverty reduction have been developed.
· Restrictions and termination of economic activities have been imposed in water protection zones of surface water.
· Control over economic activities in the areas providing for the formation of underground water deposits has been put in place.
· Measures are being taken to reduce water losses; economic mechanisms have been developed and are being developed to introduce water use on a paid basis, including at the regional level.
· Work is being conducted to upgrade and rehabilitate the existing effluent treatment facilities.
· Research is being carried out to identify specific methods for the utilization of solar power, wind energy, geothermal energy, mountain chutes, biomass processing, and so forth.
292. To improve the efficiency of water resource use, the following actions need to be taken:
· Develop measures to reduce the level of agricultural water intake to the amounts biologically required by various agricultural crops.
· Develop the National Water Resources Strategy, complete the formation of the Cadastre of Water Resources of the Kyrgyz Republic, and establish a unified national database on the condition and use of water resources in the Republic.
· Implement a step-by-step transfer to advanced technology of arable land irrigation; introduce economic instruments for transfer to an effective use of water resources, water saving and water resources conservation technologies; introduce modern water management systems.
· Ensure access to high-quality potable water for 100 percent of the urban population and 45 percent of the rural population.
· Ensure access to sewerage networks for 40 percent of the population by 2005.
· Introduce non-traditional and renewable energy sources, to replace up to 5 percent of the demand for fuel and energy.
· Increase the volume of capital investment for the purposes of water resources conservation to 10 million soms by 2005.
293. In the area of soil conservation:
· with the introduction of private land ownership, procedures of land use based on environmental requirements have been put in place;
· the Concept of producing ecologically pure products has been developed, based on organization of closed waste-free production, use of modern methods of agricultural practices, livestock feeding, processing of agricultural produce;
· control over the use of pesticides, herbicides and mineral fertilizers, as well as land use for absorption fields has been tightened; and
· construction of enterprises without sanitary protection zones has been prohibited.
294. To promote the rational use of land resources, it is necessary:
· to develop the cadastre of the quality of land resources in order to encourage the formation of an orderly market for;
· to carry out a series out measures to reduce degraded lands by 5 percent each year;
· to carry out monitoring and evaluation of pasture lands in order to introduce a rational pasture land rotation system and regulated cattle grazing;
· to increase the volume of processing and neutralizing of solid waste to 1 million tons each year, starting in 2003; and
· to increase the volume of capital investment for soil conservation to 60 million soms by 2005.
295. In the area of biodiversity conservation and reproduction, development of specifically protected natural territories:
· Inventory taking and mapping of especially economically valuable natural plant resources (medicinal, edible, forage, technical crops and other useful plant species) are underway to identify their exploitable volume and a viable volume of their annual harvesting.
· Measures on preservation of the existing flora and fauna are carried out continuously, supplementing the Red Book with the lists of new, rare or threatened species of wild animals and plants.
· Regulation of entry to reserves and preserves is in progress.
The measures undertaken help to preserve existing biodiversity of natural resources, including forest resources, and extend the network of specifically protected natural territories.
296. In order to preserve and broaden the area of forest-covered and specifically protected territories, it is necessary:
· to broaden and develop the national network of specifically protected territories, increasing them by 25 percent by 2005; and
· to increase the area of forestland in the Republic up to 6 percent by 2010 (State Forest Program).
297. The agenda for the XXI Century prepared within the framework of the forthcoming Global Summit on Sustainable Development, testifies to the effect that a start has been made in the Republic on sustainable development from an environmental point of view:
· The legal framework regulating natural resources consumption is in place and supports an adequate environment quality. New economic instruments for the use of nature have been introduced partially and the work on their full introduction is being continued.
· A range of measures is being undertaken to conserve fresh water reserves of an adequate quality.
· Adherence to the policy of conservation of natural water reserves for common use has been preserved.
· Cross-border infrastructures of hydropower systems, transportation arteries and migration are being developed and maintained.
· 24 percent of the area of specifically protected natural ecosystems have been marked down as a resource of the bio-gene pool.
· A low level of discharge of greenhouse gas and ozone-destroying substances is being maintained.
· Mechanisms for environmental impact evaluation and environmental review are being introduced into management practices.
· The attention of the international community has been attracted to the problems of development of mountain territories – the International year of Mountains have been announced.
298. The Republic’s Constitution provides for the right of each individual to an environment favorable to life. The environment conversation development strategy is to be based on two fundamental principles: the principle of integration of economic and environmental policies and the principle of individual responsibility. Within the framework of adapting the legislation on nature conservation to the conditions of the transition economy on one hand, and on the other hand, for harmonization of the national legislation of the country with international legal documents, it is intended to draft new laws in the area of environment protection and revise the regulatory and legal framework in compliance with international standards. In this connection it is planned to draft the Law of the Kyrgyz Republic on Environmental Insurance, which will allow:
· to identify the responsibility for causing damage to the environment by economic activities;
· to ensure compensation for damage by establishing a system of environmental insurance as a type of entrepreneurial activities in the sphere of ecology; and
· to provide a guarantee of compensations payable to victims independently of the financial situation of those who caused the damage.
Environment protection, biodiversity conservation as the basis of the very nature of the biosphere, the fauna and flora gene bank, will remain the Republic’s goal and task for the coming period.