Turkestan, 2 June 2021 – Ahead of World Environment Day the “4 tons of sand” art-facility has been presented in Turkestan. The event is part of the annual national campaign “Sekseuildi saktayyk” ("Save the saxaul"), jointly held by the Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources (the Ministry), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and local executive authorities with the purpose to raise awareness about the role of saxaul forests in protecting lands from degradation and desertification.
The ceremony has been attended by Daniyar Seitov, Head of Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management of Turkestan region, Bekzhan Kalymbetov, Head of Turkestan Territorial Inspection of Forestry and Wildlife, and Vitalie Vremis, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Kazakhstan.
Only 4.9 percent of the Kazakhstan area are forests, almost half of them are saxaul. Despite the current legislative moratorium in the country, the symbol of the Kazakh deserts is under threat of extinction due to excessive logging and use as fuel for cooking and heating homes by the local community, forest fires, as well as diseases and pests arising from climate change.
“Kazakhstan ranks first in the world in terms of the area on which saxaul grows, amounting to about 6.7 million hectares. It plays an important role in the conservation of the ecosystems of our country and is the habitat of many wild animals and plants. The loss of saxaul forests carries irreversible consequences, the main one of which is desertification. It is crucial not only to protect saxaul from illegal logging but also to raise awareness about the importance of its conservation”, said Bekzhan Kalymbetov, Head of Turkestan Territorial Inspection of Forestry and Wildlife.
The “4 tons of sand” installation represents a house half covered with sand brought from a nearby desert. The "Immersed House" demonstrates the sand approaching the villages due the saxaul cutting. The use of 4 tons of sand for the art-facility is symbolic, since a saxaul tree with its powerful roots can hold exactly this amount of sand and save the land from becoming harsh salt marshes and deserts.
The event also takes place in the run up to the World Environment Day, which is the most important date of the calendar for acknowledging the environment and ramping up global efforts to protect the planet. This year the World Environment Day will also mark the formal launch the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030 to prevent, halt, and reverse the degradation of ecosystems on every continent and in every ocean.
“Guided by the Sustainable Development Goals, UNDP has been a long-standing partner of the Government of Kazakhstan in protecting, conserving, and restoring biodiversity of Kazakhstan. Today ahead of the World Environment Day, we present this art installation as a reminder that we all need to join forces to reset our relations with nature for the sustainable future of people of Kazakhstan”, said Vitalie Vremis, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Kazakhstan.