Collaborative project to save nature in Kazakhstan hailed a “World Flagship” by UN

13th December 2022

Daniel Rosengren

Today the United Nations have announced their 10 World Restoration Flagship projects at the COP 15 biodiversity conference, selecting a collaborative conservation project involving CCI partners as one of the recipients of the award.

The Kazakhstan based project, Altyn Dala, is managed collaboratively by the RSPB, Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan (ACBK) – part of BirdLife International, Fauna and Flora International, Frankfurt Zoological Society and the Government of Kazakhstan.

Founded in response to the plight of the saiga antelope, an IUCN Critically Endangered species with a distinctive large, bulbous nose, the project is based across the antelope’s roaming ranges of the Kazakh steppes and deserts, spanning an area of 75 million hectares – an area big enough to be visible from space.

Thanks to the efforts of the collaboration, saiga antelope numbers are bouncing back and numbers have dramatically risen from less than 40,000 individuals in 2005 to 1.32 million now roaming the steppes of Kazakhstan. The steppes also provide a home for other important wildlife such as ground squirrels, larks and iconic steppe eagles, while the project continues to provide jobs for local people.

Aliya Shalabekova, Vice Minister, Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources of the Government of Kazakhstan, said:

“The establishment of nearly 5 million hectares of protected are as has made major strides in restoring and protecting Kazakhstan’s vast ecosystems. These results could only be achieved through strong collaboration. We look forward to continuing our long term partnership with national and international conservation organizations.”

Mark Day, Head of the Kazakhstan Steppe Conservation Programme at the RSPB said:

“CCI was founded with the vision to foster and catalyse innovative collaboration between conservation organisations, on the premise that proximity, investment and knowledge-exchange will enhance efforts to restore global biodiversity and build essential capacity.

The Altyn Dala project, being recognized by the UN today, is testament to the value of CCI, benefiting from extensive and ongoing collaboration between BirdLife International, FFI, IUCN’s Red List Unit, the RSPB, TRAFFIC and the Masters in Conservation Leadership. Everyone involved is playing to their strengths and adding enormous value to this ambitious initiative. As part of a growing list of collaborative projects, doesn’t Altyn Dala just go to show that CCI’s vision is absolutely right?”

The world restoration flagship awards are part of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, of which CCI is a supporting partner. CCI believes collaborative partnerships like this one are the only way to achieve the scale of impact required to secure a sustainable future in which both nature and society can thrive.