Pillar 1. RESILAND CA+
Drylands in Central Asia are one of the most rapidly degrading and climate-vulnerable areas in the world. A mix of natural arid conditions and increasing pressures from human activity such as converting land to intensified commercial agriculture, logging, and pasturing, have led to land degradation, erosion, and loss of vegetation cover. This, in turn, has affected the productivity of agriculture, the resilience of transport/infrastructure, and the potential for tourism development, while increasing the fragility of the region.
The region is increasingly exposed to intense weather events and natural disasters, which further degrade the landscapes, the living conditions, and the economic opportunities of people. Climate change impacts are expected to worsen the condition of countries’ natural resources and the overall resilience of their populations and ecosystems.
Resilient Landscapes in Central Asia (RESILAND CA+) seeks to help affected rural communities across Central Asia in restoring landscapes, protecting lives and livelihoods, and increasing resilience to further desertification, landscape degradation and climate change. The program focuses on two distinctly different, yet very vulnerable areas: the Aral Seabed and the degraded mountain landscapes across Central Asia. RESILAND CA + also aims to catalyze transboundary collaboration across Central Asia’s shared borders and ecosystems for improved connectivity of natural resources and increased resilience of transboundary communities and regional infrastructure against the impacts of land degradation, and greenhouse gas mitigation.
To address these objectives, RESILAND CA+ is implemented with a two-pronged approach comprised of:
- technical assistance provided by the World Bank with support from executed funds, including GEF, CAWEP, PROGREEN, WAVES, and PROFOR multi-donor trust funds, and
- an investment program that national governments implement with support from low-interest financing from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) and recipient executed trust funds.
The following projects under RESILAND CA+ include technical assistance to strengthen the countries’ capacity in identifying and implementing innovative landscape management and restoration approaches.
- The Economic Valuation of the Aral Seabed Restoration through Planting of Saxaul Trees for Environmental Stabilization in Uzbekistan. The Aral Sea is one of the greatest environmental disasters in the
world. It has shrunk to about 10% of its original size. The Aral Sea is now mostly a salt desert exposing pesticides and herbicides deposited in past decades in its seabed. The dust and sand storms originating from the dry seabed carry millions of tons of salt, dust, and pollutants across hundreds of miles negatively impacting air and water quality and people’s health. This study examines how restoring the degraded Aral Sea basin by planting of salt- and drought-resistant saxaul trees -- a species native to Central Asia -- can contribute to reduced air pollution and improved human health and livelihoods.
Mapping and Valuing Ecosystems Services, and Prioritizing Investments in Select Watersheds in Tajikistan to support Sustainable Hydropower
- The Economic Valuation of Landscape Restoration in the Mountains of Tajikistan. Major mountains of
Asia, including the Pamir and Tian Shan ranges, extend across regions of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. For the rural populations residing in these upland and mountainous areas, agriculture is the principal source of income. Yet, land degradation exacerbated by climate change causes decreased agricultural productivity, water pollution, and sedimentation. It also leads to increased occurrence of natural disasters, destruction of infrastructure, and loss of life. In Tajikistan, the mountainous terrain and peaks above 6,000 m have made the country a hydropower net exporter in Central Asia generating 90% of the country's electric power. This project evaluates economic costs of environmental degradation associated with hydroelectric dams located along Tajikistan’s Vaksh River – an area prone to land degradation caused by sedimentation and soil erosion and estimates losses in agricultural productivity and damage to roads and hydropower stemming from land degradation and the benefits of alternative strategies. In the second phase (pending confirmation of donor funding), a similar analysis will be completed in the Kyrgyz Republic.
- Mapping and Valuing Ecosystems Services, and Prioritizing Investments in Select Watersheds in Tajikistan to support Sustainable Hydropower. In Tajikistan, the mountainous terrain and peaks above 6,000m
have made the country a hydropower net exporter in Central Asia generating 90% of the country's electric power. This project evaluates economic costs of environmental degradation associated with hydroelectric dams located along Tajikistan’s Vaksh River – an area prone to land degradation caused by sedimentation and soil erosion and estimates losses in agricultural productivity and damage to roads and hydropower stemming from land degradation and the benefits of alternative strategies. In the second phase (pending confirmation of donor funding), a similar analysis will be completed in the Kyrgyz Republic
- The Economics of Landscape Restoration: Opportunities at the National Level for Sustainable Hydropower in the Kyrgyz Republic. The largest in the country, the Toktogul dam hydroelectric power plant and
reservoir on the Naryn River, hold great national importance. The objective of the Study on Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology (ROAM) in the Watershed of Toktogul Reservoir is to evaluate potential measures for integrated landscape restoration and catchment area management to reduce sediment inflows into the reservoir, which negatively impact the hydroelectric power plant’s energy production and safety. The study is expected to strengthen the capacities of the national partners to quantify costs and benefits of restoration interventions, expand the area under sustainable landscape management, and promote collaboration on integrated and transboundary landscape restoration among various institutions in the Kyrgyz Republic and among Central Asian countries.
- Kazakhstan Resilient Landscapes Restoration Project is implemented as part of Sustainable Forest Management Impact Program on Dryland Sustainable Landscapes financed by the seventh replenishment of
GEF. The $4.34 million project aims to prevent, reduce, and reverse further degradation, desertification, and deforestation of land and dryland ecosystems in drylands through the sustainable management of production landscapes
The Kazakhstan RESILAND project supports piloting of community- and farmer-centered landscape restoration based on planting of drought-resistant species of trees and shrubs and establishing agroforestry and landscape restoration demonstration sites that utilize fast-growing fruit trees for fruit production and pasturelands for livestock production. The project also engages communities in afforestation efforts around villages to provide protection from sand and dust storms or along main roads for land stabilization.
Additionally, the project aims to build capacity of Kazakhstan’s institutions in integrated landscape management. This includes:
- mapping and surveying of the Dry Aral Seabed for continued long-term afforestation of the degraded area;
- establishing a gene bank of forest species’ seeds for scientific and research purposes; and
- inventory of unaccounted forest to assess the extent of land degradation in Kazakhstan.
To further strengthen forest management capacity and ensure sustainable forest harvesting, forest management plans on selected areas of newly accounted forest in south and southwestern Kazakhstan (Kyzylorda and Zhambyl regions) will be developed and technical assistance will be provided to Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources to advance landscape restoration policies and legislation. In addition to supporting collaboration among stakeholders on the national level, the project facilitates regional cooperation among Central Asian countries and knowledge exchange under the GEF Drylands Impact Program.
Building on the success of these activities, the World Bank is currently working with countries’ governments on the design of new initiatives in the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. These activities will help restore landscapes across boundaries, protect lives and livelihoods, promote ecotourism, and increase the resilience of people and places against climate change and natural disasters.
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