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Kazakhstan signs up to protect important wetlands

Kazakhstan has become the 154th Party to the Ramsar Convention…

The news gives greater strength to conservation work in the country, say conservationists working to protect Globally Threatened Birds like Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus and White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala.

The Convention on Wetlands, signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

The first Ramsar site to be declared in Kazakhstan will be the ‘Tengiz-Korgalzhyn Lake System’. The site comprises the complete lake system, the lake shore areas as well as a buffer zone. Altogether the area totals some 353,000 hectares.

An associated nature museum and visitors’ centre will encourage the use of the site for science-based tourism and research.

The news has been welcomed by the Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity in Kazakhstan (ACBK) who have been working towards Kazakhstan’s succession to the Convention. “Korgalzhyn and Tengiz Lakes are particularly important areas for migratory birds” said Valery Khrokov, President of ACBK. “Accession to the Ramsar Convention will help us ensure that our efforts to conserve them fit into a global strategy for conserving wetland birds.”

Work towards this accession, including a Ramsar Small Grants Fund project, has also been assisted by BirdLife International, mainly through the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) and by the United Nations Development Programme.

“Conserving migratory birds relies heavily on the involvement and commitment of all of the countries in which these birds reside” said Dave Pritchard, International Treaties Adviser at RSPB. "Kazakhstan has a huge wealth of wetland habitats - that they have joined Ramsar is great news for bird conservation in the region."

The Ramsar Convention has become one of the most important global mechanisms for BirdLife Partners in their national work. Many Partners have contributed to the designation of IBAs as Wetlands of International Importance in their countries, and many help to monitor these sites.

4th July 2014