Kazakhstan to value national parks over mineral resources: Baigarin26 may 2014, 13:26
Kazakhstan National Geographic Association representative has urged Kazakhstan to withdraw 30% of its lands from multiple use status and protect them as national heritage, Tengrinews reports from an interview with Kanat Baigarin, Vice Chairman of the Association.
Aksu-Zhabaglin national nature reserve in Zhambul and South Kazakhstan Oblasts. It is Kazakhstan oldest nature reserve.
“A significant part of Kazakhstan should be protected from economic activities. Kazakhstan's territory is large vast for a population of mere 17 million people. Considering that most of our wealth is underground (in mineral reserves), we are risking to damage the eco systems while extracting the wealth, especially considering the development methods that are being used nowadays. (…) That is why I believe we must preserve a part of Kazakhstan’s territory, at least 30% of its territory through establishing national parks, nature reserves or simply limiting economic activities in certain regions. As of today, 8.6% of Kazakhstan's territory is under official protection, but in practice only 2.3% is protected, ” Baigarin said.
Ekibastuz quarry in Pavlodar Oblast. Photo courtesy of Assel Baibakisheva.
Baigarin emphasized that this was not the official position of the National Geographic Association of Kazakhstan, but only his personal opinion. “Talking about 30% I am grounding my conclusion in the international studies that in fact recommend withdrawal of 50% of lands from multiple use status, whereas I am talking only about 30%. This is not going to make Kazakhstan poor, but is going to be an important contribution into the country’s future,” the Vice Chairman of the Association said.
Toraigyr Lake in Bayanaul State National Nature Park, Kazakhstan's first nature park in Pavlodar Oblast.
Baigarin proposed to improve systematization of the existing national parks and reserves in Kazakhstan and distinguish them as national, regional or district ones. This would help make residents more conscious of their responsibility to the environment and foster their pride in local nature and historical sites, he said. Besides, it takes more political will to create a system that would preserve and increase national wealth, than there is now, Baigarin said.
Ustyurt Plateau in Mangystau Oblast. Photo courtesy of galeneastro.livejournal.com
Writing by Gyuzel Kamalova, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina