Major new steppe reserve in Kazakhstan

Steppe between Astana and Arkalky. Photo: Geoff & Hilary Welch
On November 28, the Government of Kazakhstan announced the designation of the new Altyn Dala State Nature Reserve, protecting almost 500,000 hectares of steppe grassland, semi-desert and wetland in central Kazakhstan. This is in addition to a proposed 410,000 ha extension of the Irgiz-Torgai State Nature Reserve and adds a significant piece to the jigsaw of creating an effective network of protected areas in the Altyn Dala ('Golden Steppe') project area.

Free field guides for Central Asia

Atamurat Veyisov (OSME Country Contact) and Mark Day (RSPB). Photo: Stephanie Ward (RSPB)
The recent publication of the long awaited Helm field guide Birds of Central Asia by Raffael Aye, Manuel Schweizer and Tobias Roth, heralds the start of a new era of birdwatching in this fascinating region. For the first time, all of the species, together with illustrations and distribution maps, are presented in a single volume that it is practical to use in the field. Through OSME Chairman, Geoff Welch, the publishers, Bloomsbury Publishing, have . . .

International conference “Conservation of steppe and semidesert ecosystems in Eurasia, will be held in Almaty (Kazakhstan), on March 13-14, 2013”

Conference topics:
Study of steppe and semidesert ecosystems and biodiversity
Biology of steppe and semidesert animal and plant species
Design and establishment of protected areas in open landscapes
Best practices and recommendations for sustainable use of bioresources and landscapes in steppe and semidesert zones
The influence of anthropogenic transformation of ecosystems and land-use alteration on biodiversity

The following is an extract from an article in the Guardian newspaper on 24 October.

Conservation knows no boundaries – as ties between Iraq and Norfolk show Nature Iraq is repaying international support by donating to the Norfolk Wildlife Trust's appeal to buy land next to Cley Marshes

The Mesopotamian Marshes, a vast expanse of reeds and open water twice the size of Norfolk, are the largest wetland ecosystem in the Middle East and support a number of species of global conservation concern. The marshes hold the only breeding population of the globally endangered Basra Reed Warbler and the world's highest wintering numbers of the threatened Marbled Duck.