Presentation cancelled by author

Integration of ecosystem services concept in Central Asia


Aida Lemiakina


Central Asia is a vast region that includes unique and diverse ecosystems. Currently Central Asian countries are facing serious challenges in the area of environmental sustainability, including water security, deforestation, air pollution and loss of biodiversity.
Natural ecosystems in Central Asia provide multiple benefits to local populations and play significant role to local, national, regional and global economies. Many of these ecosystems and services provided by them are underestimated and their value is not assessed in the economic terms, therefore not included in political decision making processes.
In this study we are analyzing current state of ecosystem services (ES) approach in Central Asia and identifying areas for further development and integration of ES concept into national economies. Analysis of current state of ES concept included researching uncertainties, knowledge and data gaps for understanding, monitoring and managing of ecosystem services in Central Asia.
Nowadays ES approach is not widely used in Central Asia. However there is increasing interest for integration of this concept to the decision making process in environmental management shown by researchers, NGOs and international organizations.
Several studies and interviews in Central Asian countries revealed low level of understanding of ES concept in society. NGOs in close cooperation with international organizations such as UNDP and CAREC are working on raising awareness of the value of biodiversity and ES.
ES approach is incorporated into the policy making processes in Kazakhstan as a part of macroeconomic and sectoral programs, thus making this country one of the first to join Green Economy Concept. ES concept is actively discussed in other Central Asian countries, some elements of this approach are included in countries strategic plans, but there is long way to go to implement them into policy and regulations.
One of incentive-based tools incorporating the values of ecosystems in decision making processes is Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES). Several studies concentrated on analyzing potential for using PES schemes for the poverty alleviation of communities and as adaptation strategy to climate change impact in Central Asia.
Case studies researching ES, especially in nature reserves, demonstrate the applicability of integration ES concept into policy-making at a national and regional scale. Tools and methodologies piloted at a local scale have identified potential for ES concept to support Central Asia’s transition to a more sustainable development pathway.
Directions for the future development of ecosystem services approach include elaboration of a common typology of Central Asian ecosystem types and ecosystem service classification framework, integration of ES in regulatory framework and raising awareness among political leaders, policy makers and local population.