Saryarka – Steppe and Lakes of Northern Kazakhstan
Saryarka - Steppe and Lakes of Northern Kazakhstan comprises two protected areas: Naurzum State Nature Reserve and Korgalzhyn State Nature Reserve totalling 450,344 ha. It features wetlands of outstanding importance for migratory water birds, including globally threatened species, among them the extremely rare Siberian white crane, the Dalmatian pelican, Pallas’s fish eagle, to name but a few. These wetlands are key stopover points and crossroads on the Central Asian flyway of birds from Africa, Europe and South Asia to their breeding places in Western and Eastern Siberia. The 200,000 ha Central Asian steppe areas included in the property provide a valuable refuge for over half the species of the region’s steppe flora, a number of threatened bird species and the critically endangered Saiga antelope, formerly an abundant species much reduced by poaching. The property includes two groups of fresh and salt water lakes situated on a watershed between rivers flowing north to the Arctic and south into the Aral-Irtysh basin.
2017 Conservation Outlook
Current state and trend of VALUES
Overall PROTECTION and MANAGEMENT
Click the + and - signs to expand or collapse full accounts of information under each topic. You can also view the entire list of information by clicking Expand all on the top left.
Description of values
Processes sustaining steppe and forest
Lake and wetland ecosystems
The succession and seasonal dynamics of the hydrology, chemistry and biology of the lakes, with the diverse flora and fauna of the wetlands have evolved through complex wetting and drying cycles, and are of global significance and scientific interest (SoOUV, 2008). The freshwater and lake ecosystems represent a gradient of salinity from poor freshwater to hypersaline systems (UNEP-WCMC, 2011). Both component sites contain Wetlands of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention (Wetlands International, 2012).
Exceptional diversity of flora
Exceptional diversity of Central Asian fauna
The water quality together with benthos and plankton measures are checked on a biannual basis by Kazhydromet and reports are available online (https://kazhydromet.kz/upload/pdf/ru_1500294723.pdf). According to the last report the traces of mercury in the water of Nura river are far below the threshold (Kazhydromet Reports, 2015; 2016).
These 2 dams have been in operation sice and are mantained by Kazvodkhoz. Every season they are affected by the natural wave erosion and are restored with some ground, which is out-washed during the season. They are quite crucial for the fresh-water levels of the lakes within the property (Consultation with Nature Reserve staff, 2017).
Based on aerial surveys in 2017 the number of Saiga has increased by 40.9% compared to 2016 and reached 152,000 animals (Forestry and Hunting Committee of Ministry of Agriculture of Republic of Kazakhstan (2017).
In 2015 there were 5 fires on the territory of Naurzum Reserve covering the area of 23359.5 ha, 23345.7 ha of which are non-forest and 13.8 ha are forest land. The damage totalled KZT 3,602 ths. (~USD 10,900) (Naurzum Annual Report, 2015).
In order to attract partners, the Coordination Council of Korgalzhyn Biosphere Reserve was created, including representatives of State Nature Reserve, land users, local authorities and non-governmental organizations. Prior to that, the Territorial Council of Management of Wetland Resources of Tengiz-Korgalzhyn Territory (was in operation in the framework of the GEF/UNDP Wetlands Project, 2004 – August 2011) (IUCN Consultation, 2017).
As a result of GEF project 6 tourist routes were created in Naurzum and 2 outside of it, 3 visit centres were built and several collaboration agreements with local tourist firms were signed (Consultation with nature reserve staff, 2017).
Naurzum SNR was first established in 1931 whereas Korgalzhyn SNR was first established in 1968. The legal protection has been judged to be adequate (IUCN, 2008).
According to the legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the management of economic activity defined zones of a protected area (haymaking, cattle pasture) is conducted by agreement with governmental authority (Forestry and Hunting Committee) and under the control of the administration of State Nature Reserve.
Both Reserves report to the Forestry and Hunting Committee, which reports to The Ministry of Agriculture. Before 2014, Ministry of the Environmental Protection and Water Resources was responsible for their management, but in 2014 its functions were split into two new Ministries – Ministry of Energy and Ministry of Agriculture (Ministry of Agriculture of the RK (2017)). That had an impact on the level of nature conservation status of protected areas in the country and in some instances created conflict of interests.
State Programme 2030, and the national Strategies for Biodiversity Conservation (1999) and protected areas system development from 2006 till 2008 (Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 2007). No conflicts between conservation objectives and the local/national planning framework are documented.
Altyn-Dala Nature Initiative was initiated in 2007 with the participation of such National and International parties as: The Forestry and Hunting Committee, Okhotzoopron, Institute of Zoology RK, GEF/UNDP wetlands project, RSPB, FZS, WWF. The major goal of this high-scale (60 ml.ha) partnership programme is conservation of animal flagship species of steppe and semi-steppe biotopes and improvement of nature conservation territories network in Central Kazakhstan (ACBK, 2017).
Both component reserves of the site have websites providing some basic information (Forestry and Hunting Committee of Ministry of Agriculture of Republic of Kazakhstan 2012a, b). Based on the visitor centres/museums in each SNR, there are regular school visits (UNEP-WCMC, 2011) and the reserves have also collaborated with local schools on some environmental educational programmes. New visitors’ centres have recently been built.
Ecological education departments are formed in both Reserves and are responsible for planning and execution of the educational activities. The programme is developed for 5 years. Visitor center accounts for around 3000 visitors a year with approx. 250 excursions, 50 out of which are from schools in Korgalzhyn. Also the staff travels to the nearby schools and settlements with presentations and open lessons on nature conservation covering approx. 1000 attendees yearly. Ecological weekends are organized for the local population to involve and educate on the nature conservation local concerns. Field practice for the students of the Eurasian University named after Gumilev had been organized on the basis of cordons. Numerous exhibitions, festivals (Flamingo), open day activities (crafting, cheesmaking, etc.) are organized and participation in local and international seminars and roundtables is carried out on a regular basis. The annual State Programme March of Parks covers around 12,000 participants in each Reserve.
Both reserves have expanded and increased their touristic activities putting more focus on their development in the last several years.
Korgalzhyn Reserve receives more than 5000 visitors a year visiting 3 main trails with new viewing and overnight stay decks, providing 7 guesthouses for tourists. There are regular tours from ACBK, which became the Reserve partner on tourism as well. The information on the tours is avertised on the local touristic website: www.korg-tur.kz. A 3D promo tour video on the Reserve is also available at http://www.fsbk.kz. The Reserve’s own website is currently being developed. Around 50 popular publications are published yearly to promote the conservation activities of the Reserve. Naurzum Reserve has 6 eco-touristic trails which had 186 visits in 2016 (Annual Reports, 2015-2016).
New monitoring systems were established in the framework of a GEF-funded project which included also provision of necessary equipment (IUCN Consultation, 2013).
Both Reserves have Science, Information and Monitoring Departments, which plan their research and monitoring works on a 5-year basis with annual reporting. The themes of the research and monitoring are listed in the below section of Research. The seasonal monitoring on bird migration has been conducted for many years on a regular basis. Seasonal monitoring onf waterfowl birds, muskrat, marmot, badger, Saiga, fox, boar and others is conducted annually. Monitoring of flora and vegetation cover is conducted regularly in Naurzum Reserve (Annual Reports, 2015-2016).
Research and monitoring topics in Korgalzhyn Reserve for 2016-2020 (Annual Report, 2016):
1) Ecology of main fish species in the lakes.
2) Monitoring of Anseriform birds.
3) Ecology on dendrophilic Passerines birds in steppe ecosystems.
4) Sandpiper: ecology, distribution, population.
5) Monitoring onf vegetation cover regeneration on the new covered territory.
6) Mammals monitoring and factors influencing their population numbers.
7) The Chronicles of Nature.
Research and monitoring topics in Naurzum Reserve (Annual Report, 2015):
1) The Chronicles of Nature.
2) Biodiversity of flora and vegetation cover monitoring.
3) Natural regeneration of Pinus sylvestris.
4) Role of the Reserve in conservation of rare birds of the North-Turgai Region.
5) The current state of Steppe marmot population.
6) Waterfowl birds monitoring.
Annual Reports for each reserve are provided to the Forestry and Hunting Committee on a regular basis.
Every year several articles are published in scientific journals on the findings from the long-term research and monitoring in the Reserve and also 10-15 publications are made to promote nature conservation in local magazines and newspapers for each Reserve.
Special departments of the reserve are focused on educational and touristic activities. There are several ecological routes to increase public’s awareness of natural diversity. Numerous publications in popular media are issued each year. Presentations and open lessons are given in local schools. Summer practice for University students is organized in the reserve. Seminars, roundtables and meetings are organized with local stakeholders to discuss significant issues on nature conservation. The State initiated “March of Parks” program covers all Reserves in the country for nature conservation promotion purposes (Annual Reports, 2015-2016).
Both reserves have expanded and increased their tourism activities putting more focus on their development in the last several years. The special ecological routes have been developed, guest houses have been built, and collaboration with local tourism agencies has been ongoing. There is a room for development of national and international scale tourism to these unique places. Some income had been already generated out of tourism activities and added value to the Reserves’ budgets (Annual Reports, 2015-2016).
It also provides a sizeable number of jobs in an otherwise rather poor area. At the same time, the property has rich potential to maximize its socio-economic benefits in terms of education and experiencing nature, tourism and the overall socio-economic development of this relatively poor region of Kazakhstan.
|№||Organization/ individuals||Project duration||Brief description of Active Projects|
|1||Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan||Altyn Dala Conservation Initiative, including activities aimed at Saiga conservation near the property and connected to the upgrading of the Zarykopa Zakaznik, in line with recommendations of IUCN (2007)|
|2||The World Bank||To: 2011||Cleanup of mercury contaminated sediments around the Nura River|
|3||Naurzum NGO||Support of management and research at Naurzum SNR|
||Monitoring of WB Nura River Mercury cleanup project|
|6||RK/GEF/UNDP||To: 2013||Conservation and Sustainable Development of Steppe Ecosystems Altyn-Dala State Nature Reservation|
|7||UNEP/GEF||To: 2009||Development of a Wetland Site and Flyway Network for Conservation of the Siberian Crane and Other Migratory Waterbirds in Asia|
|8||ACBK Saiga 2007 -2017||To: 2017||Saiga monitoring: annual aerial syrveys, satellite tagging, monitoring during breeding season.|
|Development of the management and monitoring system of hunting and rare waterfowl birds populations in Kazakhstan.|
|10||ACBK/ Conservation Leadership Programme(CLP), Ornithological Society of the Middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia(OSME)||
|Monitoring of the key population territories of Oxyura leucocephala|
|11||Microbiology and Virology Institute||
|Research on collection of biological material of some specieis of waterfowl birds|
|Scientific research on the wetlands of the Korgalzhyn Reserve as a basis for the meliorative and scientific research fishing.|
|13||ACBK/Darwin Initiative/ Swarovski Optics||To: 2015||Conservation of Vanellus gregarious – unique and globally endangered steppe species|
|Conservation and sustainable development of steppe ecosystems|
||Steppe Eagle population number counting|
|№||Site need title||Brief description of potential site needs||Support needed for following years|
|1||N.A.||Feasibility study aimed at determining carrying capacities and action plans for sustainable tourism development at both component PAs|
|2||N.A.||Development/upgrading of monitoring programmes for the site’s values, including hydrology and flora and fauna|
|2||Abylkhozhin Zh.B. (2017).’ Development of virgin lands: history and present’. [Electronic reference] https://tarikh.kz/sovetskiy-period-istorii-kazahstana/celin…. (in Russian)|
|3||BirdLife International (2012a). ‘Datazone: Factsheet Korgalzhyn State Nature Reserve. [Electronic reference] <http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sitefactsheet.php?id=20852…;. Accessed 31 July 2012.|
|4||BirdLife International (2012b). ‘Datazone: Factsheet Naurzum State Nature Reserve’. [Electronic reference] <http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sitefactsheet.php?id=19952…;. Accessed 31 July 2012.|
|5||Bragin E.A., Bragina T.M. (2006). Naurzum Natural Reserve, ‘Nature Reserves and National Parks of Kazakhstan’’, pp. 152-163, Almaty. (in Russian)|
|6||Conservation of Biodiversity Foundation (2017). News. [Electronic reference] http://www.fsbk.kz.|
|7||Dybas, C. L. (2008). ‘Newest UNESCO World Heritage site: vast wetland complex in land-locked Kazakhstan protects World’s most northerly Pink Flamingos’. Oceanography 21(4): 12-13.|
|8||Forestry and Hunting Committee of Ministry of Agriculture of Republic of Kazakhstan (20127b). ‘Naurzum State Nature Reserve’. [Electronic reference] <http://www.oopt.kz/forest/25/4822/>. Accessed 1 August 20127. (in Russian)|
|9||Forestry and Hunting Committee of Ministry of Agriculture of Republic of Kazakhstan (2012a). ‘Korgalzhyn State Nature Reserve’. [Electronic reference] <http://www.oopt.kz/forest/25/4820/>. Accessed 1 August 2012. (in Russian)|
|10||Forestry and Hunting Committee of Ministry of Agriculture of Republic of Kazakhstan (2017). ‘The Results of fish conservation action, aerial survey of Saiga and forest works’, News. (in Russian)|
|11||GEF (2013) Development of a Wetland Site and Flyway Network for Conservation of the Siberian Crane and Other Migratory Waterbirds in Asia. [Electronic reference] https://www.thegef.org/project/development-wetland-site-and…. (Accessed 2017).|
|12||Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan (2007). ‘Nomination Dossier: Saryarka - Steppe and Lakes of Northern Kazakhstan - for Inscription on the List of Cultural and Natural World Heritage of UNESCO’. Astana: Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan. [Electronic reference] <http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1102/documents/>. Accessed 1 August 20127.|
|13||IUCN (2008). ‘World Heritage Nomination – IUCN Technical Evaluation: Saryarka, Steppe and Lakes of Northern Kazakhstan (Kazakhstan) – ID No. 1102rev ‘. Gland: IUCN. [Electronic reference] <http://whc.unesco.org/archive/advisory_body_evaluation/1102…; . Accessed 1 August 2017.|
|14||IUCN (2012). ‘The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species’. [Electronic reference] http://www.iucnredlist.org/. Accessed 30 July 2017.|
|15||Kazhydromet Reports (2015, 2016). [Electronic reference] https://kazhydromet.kz/upload/pdf/ru_1500294723.pdf. (in Russian)|
|16||Korgalzhyn tourism web resource (2017). [Electronic reference] www.korg-tur.kz. (in Russian)|
|17||Kovshar V.A. (2006).’ Korgalzhyn Natural Reserve’, Nature Reserves and National Parks of Kazakhstan, pp. 126-137, Almaty. (in Russian)|
|18||Liter Newspaper (2015). [Electronic reference] https://liter.kz/ru/articles/show/16236-v_kazahstane_namere…, 2015. (in Russian)|
|19||Milner-Gulland, E.J., Kholodova, M. V., Bekenov, A. et al. (2001). ‘Dramatic declines in Saiga antelope populations’. Oryx 35(4): 340-345.|
|20||Ministry of Agriculture of the RK (2017). ‘Subordinate organizations’. [Electronic reference] http://mgov.kz/en/ministerstvo/podvedomstvenny-e-organizats….|
|21||Official Site of the President of the RK (2017). ‘National Flag of Kazakhstan’. [Electronic reference] http://www.akorda.kz/ru/state_symbols/kazakhstan_flag.|
|22||PlantLife (2012). IPA online database. [Electronic reference] <http://www.plantlifeipa.org/Reports.asp?v=vRepCty&i=196>. Accessed 30 July 2012.|
|23||Rachkovskaya, E. I. and Bragina, T. M. (2012). ‘Steppes of Kazakhstan: diversity and present state’. In: Werger, M. J. A. and van Staalduinen, M. A. (Eds.) Eurasian Steppes. Ecological Problems and Livelihoods in a Changing World. Berlin: Springer. Pp 103-148.|
|24||Ratel.kz (2017). [Electronic reference] http://ratel.kz/raw/populjatsija_sajgi_vyrosla. (in Russian)|
|25||Saiga Resource Center (2012-2017). Saiga News, Issue 15-21, 2012-2017. [Electronic reference] http://www.Saigaresourcecentre.com/Saiga-news/.|
|26||Schielzeth, H., Eichhorn, G., Heinicke, T. et al. (2008). ‘Waterbird population estimates for a key staging site in Kazakhstan: a contribution to wetland conservation on the Central Asian flyway’. Bird Conservation International 18(1): 71-86.|
|27||Steppe Bulletin (2011). ‘The last steppe for Altyan Dala Natural Reservation foundation’. [Electronic reference] http://savesteppe.org/ru/archives/7136. (in Russian)|
|28||The Forestry and Hunting Committee (2017). ‘Statute’. [Electronic reference] http://www.fhc.kz/about/regulation/index.php?sphrase_id=150…. (in Russian)|
|29||The Red Data Book of the Kazakh SSR (1981, 1984, 1996). (in Russian)|
|30||The World Bank (2012). ‘Eliminating Mercury's Invisible Threat in Kazakhstan’. [Electronic reference] <http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/NEWS/0,,contentMDK…;. Accessed 1 August 2017.|
UNDP (Accessed 2017). ‘Steppe Conservation and Management’. [Electronic reference]
|32||UNEP(2012). Terminal Evaluation on the project GF/2328-2712-4627 and 4630. [Electronic reference] http://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/321/Te…|
|33||UNEP-WCMC (2011). ‘Saryarka, Steppe and Lakes of Northern Kazakhstan (Kazakhstan)’. UNEP-WCMC World Heritage Information Sheets. [Electronic reference] <http://www.unep-wcmc.org/medialibrary/2011/06/28/73dd88a4/S…;. Accessed 1 August 2012.|
|34||Ullrich, S. M., Llyushchenko, M. A., Uskov, G. A. et al. (2007). ‘Mercury distribution and transport in a contaminated river system in Kazakhstan and associated impacts on aquatic biota’. Applied Geochemistry 22(12): 2706-2734.|
|35||Web of Knowledge (2012). Search results for search “Korgalzhyn” OR “Naurzum”. [Electronic reference] <http://apps.webofknowledge.com/summary.do?SID=T2Cm7gMccj79C…;. Accessed 31 July 2017.|
|36||Wetlands International (2012). ‘Ramsar Sites Information Service’. [Electronic reference] <http://www.wetlands.org/rsis/>. Accessed 31 July 2012.|
|37||World Heritage Committee (2008). ‘Decision 32 COM 8B.8’. [Electronic reference] <http://whc.unesco.org/archive/2008/whc08-32com-24reve.pdf>. Accessed 31 July 2017.|
|38||Z365info (2015). [Electronic reference] https://365info.kz/2015/11/sajga-v-kazahstane-ischeznet-v-2…|
|39||Zeleny Vestnik Herald (2017). АСБК Edition, [Electronic reference] http://www.acbk.kz/ru/articles/6565/. (in Russian)|