IBAs officially recognised in Kazakhstan
Following the publication of the first national inventory of Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Kazakhstan in 2008, the Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan (ACBK, BirdLife Affiliate) has been working with the Committee of Forestry and Hunting of the Ministry of Agriculture to gain official recognition and protection of these globally important sites. This hard work has yielded results in early February following the publication of revised legislation in which the term ‘Important Bird Area (IBA)’ was included in the Law ‘On Specially Protected Nature Areas’ of Kazakhstan for the first time. IBAs are now considered as ‘objects of state nature-reserved fund’ (in Russian ‘prirondo-zapovedniy fond’). Such objects are not a direct component of the national Specially Protected Areas (SPA) network but the Government now has an obligation for their protection and control. Currently 60% of IBAs in Kazakhstan lack formal protection and official recognition provides a good basis for ‘upgrading’ IBAs to SPA status in the future. The next step is to get all confirmed IBAs (121 at present) included in the list of ‘objects’ approved by the Government. New lists should be prepared in the new future to take into account the new legislation. The RSPB was the lead partner in the Central Asian IBA Programme which prepared national inventories in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and was funded by the UK’s Darwin Initiative
IBAs in Kazakhstan cover 14,986,249 ha (=5.6% of country) and support important populations of 25 globally threatened species. The country’s wetlands provide vital staging grounds for millions of migrating waterbirds each spring and autumn. The vast steppes of northern Kazakhstan, one of the least protected habitats in the world, are home to the majority of the world’s Sociable Lapwings and a small but increasing population of Saiga antelope. Both of these species and many more will benefit from this improved protection and management.