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General information about ERCA

Objective of Ecological Restoration and Biodiversity Conservation in Central Asia (ERCA): Promoting an active dialogue between the EU and Central Asia; demonstration and dissemination of ecosystem-based management approaches on regional, sub-regional and sub-national levels support conservation and restoration of biological diversity in the region.

Following the orientations of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the maintenance and restoration of ecosystems (or rather: land-use systems) applies above all for pasture areas. It is estimated that around 72% of the entire land surface of Central Asia consist of pasture land. At varying levels between the countries but roughly around half of the population relies on pasture for regular income. The predominant form of exploitation is through small holders which means among others that income-wise pastures are highly relevant for income distribution and, thus, for poverty reduction. Ecologically fragile and therefore prone to rapid degradation in case of misuse or overuse, pasture soils are important carbon sinks, which are difficult to restore once the land-use is changed to, say, cropping. After the end of the soviet era pasture system in all Central Asian countries have undergone a rapid change following a sharp reduction in pasture mobility leading to heavy overgrazing close to settlements and underused distant pastures above all in mountain areas. GIZ is operating a strong own baseline of pasture management projects close to the target group level above all in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan which are already exploited for a web-based knowledge management system (WOCAT). The baseline will facilitate steps into engaging national policy dialogues and for adjustments of the regular framework. Pasture management is therefore the first item proposed to be addressed under ERCA.

The second item of ERCA is biodiversity conservation along the lines of UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD). Biodiversity conservation in Central Asia is still mainly translated into activities related to the improvement of the management of protected areas and their extension, provision of support to the development of management plans and their implementation and creation of alternative income sources. However, protected areas are often just very small spots of nature isolated by sometimes intensive resource use and infrastructure.

The improvement of biodiversity conservation on landscape scale has just recently been started in few places. The designation of corridors especially for migratory species and the establishment of seasonal and migratory protection zones is a frequently discussed option. Most protected areas in Central Asia face serious problems in terms of enforcement of regulations and prevention of illegal activities inside the areas. GIZ is disposing of own experiences in Central Asia which permits to use them as stepping stones into up-scaling, triggering policy dialogues and fostering exchange of best practices and knowledge-management involving all five countries.