On December 2-3, 2021, the first International Conference on Cold Winter Deserts was held in Tashkent within the framework of the CADI (Central Asian Desert Initiative) project. It was organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the State Forestry Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Uzbekistan in cooperation with the University of Greifswald (Germany) and the Michael Succow Foundation.
Bringing together the researchers, academia, scientific institutions, as well as stakeholders, students from local and international universities, representatives of international organizations, the conference is set to become a platform for discussing options for the development and conservation of the temperate desert territories, as well as to raise awareness of advanced technologies for sustainable land management, disseminating knowledge about biodiversity conservation in ecosystems of temperate desert zones.
The temperate deserts of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are among the regions of Central Asia that are of global importance for the conservation of biodiversity and, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, can claim the status of world heritage sites. These unique landscapes support the existence of rare species of animals, including wild gazelles, kulans and urials. They also serve as important nesting and migration sites for bird species such as burial eagle, bustard and saker falcon. However, these territories are currently threatened by the overuse of their natural resources and large-scale infrastructure construction.
And these territories are the target countries of the Central Asia Desert Initiative. The CADI project, funded by the German government, is being implemented since 2016 by the University of Greifswald, the Michael Succow Foundation and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
“Central Asia is a global biodiversity hotspot located in the heart of Earth’s largest continent. It features unique habitats, breeding grounds, migration corridors and flyways for many rare and endangered animal species. The CADI project aims to conserve and ensure the sustainable use of temperate deserts, which are unique ecosystems of global importance.”, – said National Coordinator of the CADI project Nariman Nishanov.
The project supports communities involved in agriculture in the harsh conditions of the temperate deserts. In particular, project activities include provision of equipment for wool processing, sewing, milk processing, beekeeping, as well as the distribution of seeds and seedlings to farmers and smallholders. Furthermore, the CADI project conducts an extensive training program on the cultivation of crops, supports the development of handicrafts for women, the creation of nurseries in greenhouses, and the development of beekeeping. At the same time, the project emphasizes inclusion and gender balance, given the invaluable contribution of women in the agricultural sector.