CABNET – Central Asian Biodiversity Network

Establishment of university partnerships for research and conservation of biodiversity in arid regions of Central Asia

In the arid regions of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, many species are acutely threatened – in particular through desertification, overgrazing and water shortage. The transition countries can only meet these challenges through shared strategies in regards to research and conservation of the biodiversity of these areas. This requires the discussion of regional problems and approaches and the development of shared concepts for the future. The necessary dialogue and exchange between institutions in the Central Asian countries still need to be established. In this context, CABNET (Central Asian Biodiversity Network), a cooperative project between universities, placed special emphasis on general and advanced technical education as well as the establishment of a durable, sustainable and multi-faceted network between partner institutions. Even after the project ended, the now existing network will be further extended to include additional scientific and non-governmental organisations.


CABNET emphasised the establishment and extension of partnerships between universities, south-north and south-south networking through shared excursions and educational events, creation of a virtual platform, transfer of knowledge and methods through shared teaching and research, capacity building for scientists, students and multipliers, as well as a feasibility evaluation of “exporting” the University of Greifswald’s international master programme LENC (Landscape Ecology & Nature Conservation).


By the end of 2015, several theses and PHDs will be completed, for which field work was conducted in the project area. Topics include fields such as groundwater level changes in the Ili-Delta (Kazakhstan), the natural and anthropogenic dynamics of Saxaul forests in the Ili-Balkhash region, vegetation, land use and land use change in the Ili Delta, especially reed use and fisheries, work on microbial diversity and microbial interspecific competition of certain functional groups of bacteria within the Lake Balkhash, and reproduction patterns and genetic diversity in Gagealutea (Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem). In addition, there were also research stays for theses at the Institute of Botany and Landscape Ecology.


In addition to various trips for project initiation with the NGO Khorezm Rural Advisory SupportService (Krass) to Urgench and Almaty, with the aim to drive new project ideas, deeper institutional partnerships have emerged. For example, the signing of an MoU with the Botanical Institute of the Academy of Sciences and another MoU with the Institute of Deserts, Flora and Fauna in Ashgabat (Turkmenistan) with the aim to further protect the Tugay forests along Amu Darya River, could be achieved.


At the CABNET final conference it the initiated impulses and cooperation initiatives, that emerged through CABNET, became clear. All sides emphasised their interest in a continuation and to further build the existing networks.


The project CABNET started 2010 and had a duration of four years. It was based at the Institute of Botany and Landscape Ecology at the University of Greifswald. Its most important partners were the National University Al-Farabi in Almaty, Kazakhstan; the Eurasian University L.N. Gumilev in Astan, Kazakhstan; the Academy of Science in Ashgabad, Turkmenistan; and the Research Centre for Forestry and Horticulture in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The Michael Succow Foundation supported the project.


CABNET is financed under the DAAD’s package of measures “Quality Network Biodiversity“ through the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung; BMZ).


















Project coordination:

Jens Wunderlich, email: jens.wunderlich(at)