• KGS/USD = 0.01118 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00222 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09131 0%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01118 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00222 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09131 0%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%

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Eco-Activists Tackle Dust Storms on Karakalpakstan’s Aral Sea

Forestry workers and ecological activists in Uzbekistan’s northwestern Karakalpakstan region have begun planting desert plants on dried up sections of the Aral Sea.  Salt and dust carried in the wind cause significant damage to areas adjacent to the Aral Sea and their inhabitants. Every year more than 100 million tons of salt, dust and sand are blown from the bottom of the former Aral Sea and mix into the air.  Up until the late-1990s, the land surrounding the Aral Sea was still cotton fields; today, it’s largely an expanse of salinized grey emptiness. The desiccation of the landscape has led to these vast toxic dust-storms that ravage around 1.5 million square kilometers. Spreading nitrates and carcinogens, these storms - visible from space - used to occur once every five years, but now strike ten times a year. Once a thriving agricultural center, Karakalpakstan, home to the remaining section of the so-called Large Aral Sea, is now one of the sickest places on Earth. Respiratory illness, typhoid, tuberculosis and cancers are rife, and the region has the highest infant mortality rate in the former USSR. “This year we plan to create green plantations in the most vulnerable places, where the winds with salt and sand come from,” said Zinovy Novitsky, a project manager from the Research Institute of the State Forestry Committee. “We plan to plant trees on 150-200,000 hectares. The country is introducing an effective policy to combat this problem.”  Between 2018 and 2023, 1.7 million hectares of forests were planted on the bottom of what used to be the Aral Sea. To date, forestry enterprises have collected and prepared for sowing 192 tons of desert plant seeds, including 71 tons of saxaul seeds. Similar plans are being undertaken across the border in Kazakhstan, where, according to the International Fund for saving the Aral Sea in the Republic of Kazakhstan, the so called “Green Aral Sea” being created will make a massive contribution to the process of achieving carbon neutrality. “One saxaul retains up to 4 tons of sand, 1 hectare of four-year-old saxaul absorbs 1,158.2 kg of carbon dioxide and releases 835.4 kg of oxygen per year, [whilst] the shrubby plant, salsola richteri kar absorbs 1,547.8 kg of carbon dioxide and releases 1,116.4 kg of oxygen per hectare. Accordingly, 1.1 million hectares will consume about 1.3 million tons of carbon dioxide.”

Harnessing Social Media for Social Change: An Interview with Tashkent-based Eco-Blogger Mutabar Khushvaktova

More and more people in Uzbekistan are paying attention to environmental issues and aspiring to make a real change in their country. One such campaigner is Mutabar Khushvaktova, an eco-blogger who has used her platform to draw attention to environmental issues and inspire others to take action. The Times of Central Asia spoke to Khushvaktova. What is it like to be an environmental activist in Uzbekistan, and when did you first become so involved in environmental issues? After my daughter was born, I began thinking about the future and what I could do to provide her with a favorable environment in which to live. I decided to start blogging and talking about the environment to raise awareness about these issues. I realized that the media plays an important role in shaping public opinion, so I resolved to use this tool. One of my main accomplishments was to create a popular blog about environmentalism and opportunities to change our situation. I try to use my blog for educational outreach and to bring attention to these issues. I base my content solely on source-verified information, including global statistics. This allows me to create content that’s truthful and credible. Next year, I plan to enroll in a European Master's program to get a specialized education in the field of ecology. I would like to create books for kindergartners, school children and students. From my childhood, I was very much in love with nature - animals, plants, everything related to nature. It was a passion my parents also shared. Being a parent is a huge responsibility, and a great motivator. I see every child as if they were my own; this generation is very exciting to me, and I want them to have a good future.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image="13505" img_size="full" el_class="scond-image" parallax_scroll="no" woodmart_inline="no"][vc_column_text woodmart_inline="no" text_larger="no"]You’ve been involved in eco-activism in Uzbekistan for some time, now; have you noticed any improvement? Yes, I have. After all, in the almost three years I’ve been involved in this field, I’ve witnessed the emergence and development of various eco-initiatives. Compared to when I first started addressing this issue, the situation today has changed considerably. Back then, people had no idea about environmental issues at all, especially on social media. But even at that time, I felt that people were ready to learn more. They were very interested, and asked me a lot of questions. Nowadays, because there are more and more pressing environmental issues, people are paying more attention to this topic. It is worth saying that the whole idea of environmental awareness has become very popular in our society. For example, I notice that people no longer just send me direct messages with questions, but also actively discuss the issues in the comments section. They share their successes, tell me that they have started sorting garbage for recycling, started their own eco-friendly businesses, and even stopped using plastic bags.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image="14067" img_size="full" el_class="scond-image" parallax_scroll="no" woodmart_inline="no"][vc_column_text woodmart_inline="no" text_larger="no"]Recently, there have been stories in the news about the deteriorating air quality in...

Uzbekistan’s “Plant 100 Saplings” Initiative: A Green Response to Illegal Tree-Felling

In a bid to counter the alarming rate of illegal tree-felling, the president of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, has given the green light to an innovative ecological program. Launched by the Ministry of Ecology, Environmental Protection and Climate Change on January 29th, the initiative involves planting 100 saplings for every tree unlawfully cut down. This move comes as air pollution in Tashkent has reached alarming levels, with PM2.5 pollution recently surpassing the World Health Organization's recommended limit by 23.2 times. Tashkent regularly features as one of the worst cities globally for air pollution due to factors like increasing emissions from coal-burning heat, power plants and motor vehicles, unauthorized construction, and illegal tree-felling.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image="14150" img_size="full" el_class="scond-image" parallax_scroll="no" woodmart_inline="no"][vc_column_text woodmart_inline="no" text_larger="no"]Approximately 2,427 instances of illegal tree-felling were recorded in the first nine months of 2023 alone - including 714 bushels of precious trees - contributing to the shrinking of wildlife reproduction areas and natural reserves. The situation is particularly dire in the country's “Red Book” areas, which are home to endangered flora and fauna. One significant casualty has been the Tajik kavragi, a naturally occurring medicinal plant. Between July and September, 11,550 bushes were illegally harvested in the Surkhandarya Region’s Bobotog State Forestry, resulting in environmental damage totaling 5.7 billion som ($462,000). At the January 29th meeting it was announced that 22,000 new industrial enterprises have been launched in the country since 2020, and industry and transport together now emit more than two million tons of pollutants into the atmosphere a year. In many cases, construction projects are implemented without environmental assessment. To reverse this trend, the government is planning substantial green efforts over the next five years. These include creating at least 3,000 hectares of green belt and 200 hectares of “green parks” encircling the city of Tashkent and its surrounding districts. Additionally, "green gardens" will be established on former garbage landfills, covering 23 hectares in Ohangaron and 37 hectares in Yangiyol in the Tashkent region.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image="14168" img_size="full" el_class="scond-image" parallax_scroll="no" woodmart_inline="no"][vc_column_text woodmart_inline="no" text_larger="no"]As part of this ambitious project, the Ministry of Ecology, Environmental Protection and Climate Change has created a digital map, pinpointing the coordinates of more than 254 million trees. Each tree in the city of Tashkent will be registered and given a 'passport' on the Green Space electronic platform. This will reflect crucial information, such as the tree's type, age, height, condition, and location. Trees older than five years covering all regions and districts of Uzbekistan were accounted for during the survey. This comprehensive registration process was made possible through the use of satellite imagery, remote sensing, geo-information systems, and artificial intelligence technologies. The initiative also drew on the experiences of several countries, including the U.S., Canada, China, India, Australia, Russia, and Germany. Uzbekistan's "Plant 100 Saplings" initiative marks a significant step towards environmental conservation. By leveraging technology and international experiences, the country is taking steps to protect its flora and fauna, demonstrating a commitment to sustainable development and environmental stewardship.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image="14148" img_size="full" el_class="scond-image" parallax_scroll="no" woodmart_inline="no"][vc_column_text woodmart_inline="no" text_larger="no"]Other measures currently...

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