Protection of wetlands is one of the important aspects of environmental policy of Turkmenistan

Such natural area are protected not only as places of birds and other species of biodiversity habitat but also as water reserves, productive ecosystems, controllers of water condition and climate in national, regional and global scale.

Convention on Wetlands that has international importance as a habitation of waterfowls was signed in Ramsar (Iran) on February 2, 1971. This day starting from 1997 was declared as the World Wetlands Day and is summoned to focus attention on the value of these territories for the support of sustainable development of the flora and fauna in our planet. At present time, there are 169 countries are the parties of the Convention and 2259 Ramsar territories making 215 million hectares were nominated in the world. in this year, celebration of the World Wetlands Day undergoes under the slogan Wetlands reduce the risk of disasters.

Turkmenistan joined the Convention in July 2009. There is one Ramsar territory in the country, which is Turkmenbashy Gulf of the Caspian Sea. The territory of the sanctuary is more than 267 thousand hectares; the Gulf was nominated to the Ramsar List in 2009. Today, this site has national protected area status of international importance and special programme of its management has been developed. Nomination of Ogurjaly wildlife preserve together with South Cheleken Bay and other wetland ecosystems of Turkmenistan are waiting their turn. Around 20 percent of the territory of our country occupied by river valleys and oases where environment conditions are the main component of ecosystem. There are many of such places on the Caspian Coast. Altyn Asyr Turkmen Lake, Karakum River aqua system, valleys of Amudarya, Murgab and Tejen Rivers with their channels and overflows are related to water territories as well.

Extension of the list of protected areas, improvement of public awareness on importance of water bodies, rivers, lake and wetlands for protection of biodiversity, on significant ecosystem services as well as development of approaches to their careful management, adapted to national conditions are priority targets of Ramsar Convention.

The main direction of activities under the Convention is traditional annual registration of hibernating waterfowls. By the initiative of working group of Ramsar Convention in Turkmenistan with the assistance of the State Committee for Natural Protection and Land Resources, UK Royal Society for Protection of Birds and National Hunting and Fishing Organization, the registry of waterfowls and wetland birds, including hibernating cranes, were made in Amudarya Valley and areas along Kelif Uzboy, 15-Years of Independence storage pond, at Watan, Gulistan and Tallymerjen agricultural territories, Soltandag and Kyzylburun Lakes, Lebap velayat in January � December.

Personnel of Amudarya Natural Reserve worked on the banks of Soltanjar and Duyeboyun water pools. The registry of the birds in Zengibab, Uzynshor and Atybayshor Lakes, Dashoguz Velayat was made by the personnel of Kaplankyr Natural Reserve. Staff of Hunting and Fishing Organization made the registry at Khanhovuz water pond in Mary Velayat and water bassins of Ahal Velayat. Finally, local ornithologists made revision of bird population in Balkan Velayat, from Turkmenbashy Gulf until Karabogazgol. Annual registry of wintering birds has been carried out for more than 50 years already, having become by now an important component of international programmes of control for the dynamic of waterfowls and water-related settled, migrating and hibernating bird species in Northern Eurasia.

Central Asian Ramsar Regional Initiative (CARRI) in the Central Asian Region was established according to the proposal of the Secretariat of Ramsar Convention in 2016 for efficient coordination of international cooperation. Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are the member of the Initiative; Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are to joint it soon. Central Asian Ramsar Regional Initiative has to become the platform for development of efficient mechanisms of regional cooperation in this range of issues. Organization of forums, conferences, seminars, development of training programmes support of study and expansion of Ramsar wetland territories, involvement of different business groups and organizations, support of national environmental initiatives are among the priority activities of the organization.

Source: Turkmenistan: the Golden Age Online Newspaper