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DEVELOPING ACTION PLANS FOR IBAs CONSERVATION IN UZBEKISTAN: RESULTS OF MEETINGS WITH STAKEHOLDERS

Developing Action Plans for IBAs conservation continues in Uzbekistan. The project is realizing by Uzbekistan Society for the Protection of Birds (UzSPB) together with National University of Uzbekistan and supported by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). On the first project workshop which took place in May 2012 in Tashkent project leader and executors planned to visit three natural territories which are in the focus of the project. In June 3-9, 2012 UzSPB staff members together with executors of the project visited Ayakagitma lake in Bukhara region, Amankutan pass in Samarkand region and Dalverzin Hunting Management area in Tashkent region. Geoff Welch - RSPB International Management Plans Advisor arrived in Uzbekistan to consult and assist in analyzing current situation on project territories. Visiting of project territories was aimed at meetings with local people and stakeholders.

Ayakagitma lake was the first territory visited by project team. It's located in the central part of Kyzylkum desert and surrounded by saline marshlands, sandy dunes and cliffs. This lake has only one settlement with the same name. Staff and members of UzSPB organized meeting with local people in school №38 of the village. 11 people participated in the meeting actively. Among them were mainly oldest inhabitants of Ayakagitma, director, teachers and staff of local school, herders and retirees. Bukhara Regional Committee for Nature Protection and Bukhara Regional Society of Fisherman and Hunters supported this meeting and assisted in its organization. They provided transport for visiting territory and staff for discussion and work with local people. Meeting was organized also by efforts of project executors: Dr. M.M. Turaev - Head of Department of Ecology of Bukhara State University and R.R. Rahmonov - Assistant of this department. They will be visiting Ayakagitma regularly in future to consult with local people about main directions of project work.

In the start of the meeting R.D. Kashkarov - Executive Director of UzSPB addressed to participants with welcoming speech. He noticed that the main goal of the meeting is to discuss abilities how local people can improve condition of nature territory where they leave and at the same time get use and benefit for themselves. Then Geoff Welch - representative of RSPB greeted stakeholders and said that Ayakagitma is first no protected territory in our country where project together with local people will develop unique for Uzbekistan mechanism for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Developed mechanism will be used for management of territories with similar ecosystems in Uzbekistan and other countries in the world. Site Action Plan will become this mechanism. The document will improve not only environment but also standard of living of local communities. Presentation of O.R. Kashkarov - Public Relations Assistant of UzSPB continued the meeting. He told about role of local people living on nature territory in process of Action Plans developing.

The most part of the meeting was dedicated to discussion. During discussion project team succeeded in finding out what is the value of territory for local people, what they would like to change to use it more efficient and which difficulties they can face on this way. Discussion gave a chance to identify problems which trouble people of the village most of all and should be taken into account during Action Plans developing. For solving these problems it's necessary to control hunting and manage saxaul sustainably in outskirts of the village. Also according to local people this territory has significant potential concerning medicinal plants. However consultations with specialists are necessary to find out how they can be used.

Amankutan pass in Samarkand region was the next territory which was visited by leader, executors of the project and Advisor of RSPB. Significant support for organizing and caring out of this meeting was given by Samarkand Regional Committee for Nature Protection and State Biological Control of Samarkand region. Over 160 local people were present on the meeting in local school №111. Activity of people visited this meeting and their serious anxiety about environmental problems on their territory amazed project team. Together with local people foresters of Amankutan forestry, owners of camps and recreation zones, staff of Samarkand Regional Committee for Nature Protection, rangers from 2nd Operational Group of Biological Control of Samarkand region, teachers of the school, members of local administration and journalists participated in this meeting.

Experience gained during the meeting in Ayakagitma village allowed amending program of the meeting in Amankutan. After introduction and short speech about purpose of the visit participants heard about benefit which nature can provide to them. Presentation was made by one of project executors - Docent of Zoology Department of Samarkand State University Dr. S.E. Fundukchiev. After this local people had a chance to express their own opinion about natural value of Amankutan pass and share problems and threats for biodiversity. Discussion grew into violent debates and local people being not indifferent to destiny of their home nature proposed interesting ideas for solving of existent seriously ecological problems. After the meeting excursion to Amankutan pass took place. Project executors and RSPB Advisor gave an interview to journalists of STV and Forum TV channels.

Thanks to an active participation of local people and support from governmental conservation organizations it was possible to find out that during Action Plans development for Amankutan it's necessary to accent attention on forest management and try to make grazing and cutting more sustainable and safe for nature. For work on each of these directions in the nearest future actions will be developed. Project executors will submit them to local people's approval during the next meeting in the village. Visiting the second territory project group had a meeting with M.M. Mamedov - Deputy Chairman of Samarkand Regional Committee for Nature Protection. He promised to support UzSPB activities in future and told about work for designation of protecting status to Amankutan. Mr. Mamedov expressed hope that in nearest future Amankutan will become a Nature Park. As he noticed, in this connection conservation activities carried out on this territory, especially by nongovernmental organizations should be supported.

Third territory where Action Plans will be developed is Dalverzin Hunting Management area. UzSPB staff together with project executors also organized meeting there. This territory differs from two other sites because it has protected status. That is why meeting was directed at staff of the area which controls, protects territory and carries out economical activity there. 25 staff members of Dalverzin participated in the meeting. They were forestry specialists, rangers, forest-guards and workers. It was found out that there are many problems in Dalverzin related with site management, protection and sustainable use of nature resources. To solve identified problems it's necessary to raise awareness of visitors, staff members, hunters and people from nearby villages. As the meeting shown, the Plan developed for Dalverzin will be more along the lines of a "full" Management Plan rather than a simplified version which is considered to be more practical for the other two sites. This is because Dalverzin is a State Hunting Management area and has staff for Plan implementation. This will let develop and realize actions directed at restoration of tugai forest, wetlands and efficient use of plain territories. In Action Plan will be also included research and survey work as well as lobbying for increased powers for rangers among staff of the area.

Now UzSPB staff together with project executors works out principle activities to be developed in Action Plans on each of the sites basing on results of discussion with local people. The next step in the planning process will be discussion of principle activities with local communities and administration of three project territories. Meetings will be independently organized by project executors.

Supported by: BirdLife International RSPB Darwin Initiative

© Compiled by Oleg Kashkarov
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Last modified: 05.07.2012