Сelebration of the Biological Diversity Day

22 May 2014

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The State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Nature Protection, Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme supported by UNDP in Uzbekistan held an information seminar dedicated to the Сelebration of the Biological Diversity Day.

The seminar was attended by the leadership and representatives of the State Committee for Nature Protection, UNDP in Uzbekistan, government ministries and agencies, research institutes of the Academy of Sciences, environment departments of the universities in Tashkent and journalists.
The participants discussed various biodiversity issues: the significance of biodiversity, causes for its reduction and the importance of biodiversity conservation.

As pointed out by the participants of the seminar, biological diversity refers to all forms of life on Earth: plants, animals, microorganisms, their constituent genes and ecological systems. Around 1.4 million species have been described; according to some projections, these species can amount up to 8 million. In addition, many more species unknown to science dwell in the depths of the oceans, high up in the mountains, impenetrable equatorial forests and other remote places of the planet. All this diversity of life is greatly important for life and has environmental, genetic, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic value.

The state of biological diversity is currently raising serious concerns. “According to expert estimates, biodiversity loss is many times higher than the natural extinction” - said the UN Resident Coordinator in Uzbekistan Stefan Priesner. “The global community cannot provide exact figures because we do not know how many species there are on the planet. Therefore, we cannot say how many species are disappearing. But biology experts believe that extinction rate is from 1,000 to 10,000 species a year. That is to say, from a few to hundreds of animal and plant species are vanishing every day. And one can say with a great deal of certainty that the main reason for this extinction is human beings, their activities!”
Currently, the humanity consumes 40 per cent more natural resources per year than Earth can recover.

Uzbekistan has a rich and unique biodiversity. Uzbekistan’s flora has over 4,800 species of vascular plants represented by 650 genera and 115 families. Uzbekistan’s fauna is also unique with its richness and diversity of species. The fauna of invertebrates and vertebrates include about 15,615 species.”

As was stated by Deputy Chairman of the State Committee for Nature Protection Kamolitdin Sadykov, Uzbekistan’s independence gave a completely new impetus to the efforts to protect the environment, flora and fauna. The Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan “On Environmental Protection” was one of the first laws adopted in the country. The country’s environmental legislation is increasingly focusing on biodiversity concerns resulting in the adoption of national laws such as the Law “On the Protection and Use of the Flora”, “On the Protection and Use of the Fauna”, “On Forests”, “On Protected Areas” and others. These are important documents that promote the conservation of the country’s flora and fauna.

“The Red Book of Uzbekistan” containing the essential information about rare and endangered flora species was adopted in 1979. The goal of the “Red Book” is to draw the people’s attention and public authorities to the problems around wildlife conservation and help preserve the wildlife gene pool.

Uzbekistan is carrying out extensive international cooperation in the field of biodiversity conservation. Among the first conventions joined by the country was the Convention on Biological Diversity (1995). Besides, Uzbekistan is a party to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (1997), the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (1998), the Convention on the Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Wildlife Habitat (2001).

The country has signed a number of agreements, including the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation and Regeneration of the Bukhara Deer, the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation, Regeneration and Sustainable Use of the Saiga and many others.

Currently, Uzbekistan’s system of protected areas includes eight state reserves, a biosphere reserve, two national parks, and twelve state sanctuaries and the National Centre for Breeding Rare Species of Animals.

“However, the ever progressing human activity is causing a great damage to natural ecosystems as a result of which 87 species representing aquatic and wetland ecosystems, 46 species of desert ecosystems, 43 species of mountain ecosystems have now become endangered. Today, some species are either endangered or have completely disappeared” - said the head of the Biological Control Department of the State Committee of Uzbekistan for Nature Protection (Goskompriroda) Alexandr Grigoryants.

One of the most serious problems around biodiversity conservation is that there is no direct economic assessment of the value of the services biodiversity offers us. According to the experts of the World Bank and the International Union for Nature Conservation, the total value of all ecosystem services is estimated to be tens of trillions of dollars a year. A better understanding of how much biodiversity we consume and what its real economic value is will make people use it in a more effective and rational way.

Biodiversity conservation is impossible without full and comprehensive cooperation and information sharing between all partners: government agencies, stakeholders, the media and ordinary citizens. Public awareness should be raised greatly regarding the role and significance of biodiversity and biodiversity conservation goals, as well as the existing problems and challenges.

“Therefore, the UNDP/GEF/Goskompriroda “National Biodiversity Planning to Support the Implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) 2011-2020 Strategic Plan in Uzbekistan” Project aims to integrate biodiversity considerations into national and industrial development planning documents through the updated “biodiversity activity planning” with a wide involvement of all stakeholders” - said Project Manager Irina Bekmirzaeva.

The seminar provided information on the activities carried out in the country by partnership projects of Goskompriroda, UNDP and GEF SGP to promote research and biodiversity conservation.