The project objective is to transform land use practices in steppe and semi-arid zones of Kazakhstan to ensure ecological integrity, food security and sustainable livelihoods.
Situation and solution
Dryland ecosystems (i.e., desert, dessertified and dryland steppe ecosystems) of Kazakhstan are particularly prone to desertification with about 75% of arable and pasturelands ranked with a desertification index of high to very high. Areas of land subject to wind erosion occupy 25.5 million ha, and those subjects to water erosion more than 5 million ha, of which 1 million ha are arable land. The largest areas of land affected by water erosion can be observed in the southern regions of Kazakhstan – 958.7 thousand ha in total – of which eroded arable land makes up 223.6 thousand ha. The processes of erosion on irrigated fields and pastures in southern regions of Kazakhstan have developed rapidly in recent years: every year 19 million tons of soil is washed off with 400 thousand tons of humus. This means that about 2.5–2.6 million tons of manure would be needed annually to cover these losses. Building upon the past experience of GEF funded projects’ efforts, the project will create a more conducive policy and legal framework for establishment of agro-environmental incentives for sustainable and better integrated pasture and land use planning and management, and build national and local capacity for practical implementation of such planning in the field. Existing best practices and approaches will be replicated at a wider scale within selected representative oblasts namely – Akmola, Kostanai, North and East Kazakhstan Oblasts (i.e., the northern steppe zone: forest steppe, meadow steppe and dry steppe ecosystems), and Almaty and Kzyl Orda Oblasts (i.e., the southern arid zone: desert and steppe semi-desert ecosystems) of the country.The project engages leading thinkers from governments, the private sector, academia, and the NGO sector in its efforts.
This objective will be realized through two components/ outcomes that are further described below:
Outcome 1: Investment in integrated territorial planning and start-up of agro-environmental incentives
- Demonstrated improved land management preventing ecosystem degradation over an area of 0.75 million hectares of productive landscapes (pasturelands, crop & fodder production lands) in the steppe and semi-arid zones of Kazakhstan evidenced by:
- Improved vegetation cover, increase of water provision and decreased soil erosion at 750,000 ha;
- Increase in fodder production by 45%;
- Increase in cereal crop productivity by 35%,
- Secured livelihoods and food base for 30,000 people
Outcome 2: Enabling policy environment for integrated land use planning and agro-environmental incentives
- Reduced land degradation at over 187 mln ha in Kazakhstan in the long run (25 years) resulting from the improved regulatory, legal and institutional bases created by the project.
- At least two state programs reorient funding from traditional to ‘green’ agriculture.
- A 20% increase in national financing of SLM practices, 10 years after the set-up of the agro-environmental scheme.