Opportunities for CWR conservation in Central Asia

Date: 24 January 2013

Crop Wild Relatives get a big mention in the brief World Bank press release, which announces a US$ 3.35 million Global Environment Facility Grant to the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic (for US$ 2.35 million and US$ 1 million respectively) to support management of protected areas and sustainable ecosystem development of the Tien Shan region of the two countries. The new project plans to strengthen biodiversity conservation by supporting Protected Area management in 12 Protected Areas (PAs) by building technical capacity, investing strategically in PA infrastructure, supporting local efforts to reduce threats to biodiversity in and around project PAs, increasing public awareness, and promoting sustainable tourism. There would appear to be a great opportunity here for CWR conservation. Neighbouring Uzbekistan (which has benefited immensely from its involvement in the UNEP/GEF CWR Project) now has substantial expertise in working with Protected Area management to safeguard CWRs. Furthermore, the country was part of the Central Asia Transboundary Biodiversity Project, which also supported biodiversity conservation in the Western Tien Shan and assisted Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Uzbekistan in strengthening and coordinating national policies, regulations, and institutional arrangements for biodiversity protection. It would be a shame if Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic missed the opportunity of building on lessons learned from the CWR Project and did not take advantage of expertise found right on their doorstep.