Riparian forests in Kyrgyzstan are marginal zones of trees, accompanied by shrubs and other vegetation, adjacent to little streams, rivers and high mountain lakes, which are on the average 50 m broad (partly only 5 m and rarely up to 2 km). Although riparian forests comprise not more than 6% of all forest area of Kyrgyzstan they constitute an ecosystem with high biodiversity and can be divided into 9 subtypes, ranging from lowlands up to 3200m. The forest-belts not only encompass a mixture of habitats and species diversity, but also provide for subsistence and livelihoods of the local population. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the dependence of the local population on riparian forest resources and the consequent overuse of these resources tremendously increased. This increase resulted in the heavy degradation of these areas and disruption of their ecological integrity and function, the loss of globally important biodiversity, the reduction of water quality and availability, constant water erosion and the loss of adjacent farm lands, increased vulnerability to natural disasters such as land slides and floods and, hence, affecting the livelihood of the local population. Due to much higher population density around riparian areas than in other forest types, riparian forests are more seriously affected by degradation, with more than 50% deforestation over the past 20 years.
Outcomes: (Results of projects)
- Strengthened systemic and institutional capacity for land friendly riparian forest management in the Karkura riverbed, Jalal-Abad oblast
- Sustainable forestry demonstrated which contribute to mitigation of land degradation as well as improving livelihoods.
- Local villagers and school students aware about forest benefits, both in terms of ecological sustainability and disaster reduction and mitigation (against flooding, landslide, avalanches)