Central Asia

Biodiversity protection builds bridges in arid Central Asia

The Southern Ustyrt plateau stretches across the border between Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Its nature is largely untouched by man and thus has great potential for the protection and resettlement of species native to Central Asian arid regions.


Biodiversity monitorings of 2012 and 2013 in the Uzbek Ustyurt region brought spectacular discoveries: They documented the occurrence of the Asian wild ass (Equus hemionus kulan), which was considered extinct in the wilderness of Uzbekistan, and further species. The expeditions’ results stirred great interest in the Uzbek nature protection community and are currently being registered in the IUCN’s Red List and in Uzbekistan’s Red Book.


The foundation’s biodiversity monitoring project now allows expanding expeditions into the Turkmen part of the Southern Ustyrt plateau which makes this venture a systematic monitoring of biodiversity in one of the world’s most remote regions. The monitoring’s spatial expansion brings considerably more comprehensive data on the Ustyurt’s biodiversity and especially on species migrating across state boundaries. Further discoveries are to be expected in this little explored region which is predestined for reintroducing species adapted to Central Asian drylands.

The expeditions for biodiversity monitoring both in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan in 2014 also contribute to an intensified cooperation between scientists of the two countries. Thus the project also aims at promoting an up-to-date scientific discussion across borders which might offer a basis for proper political decisions on the region’s environmental problems. The expeditions’ results will be presented in a workshop in winter 2014.


A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Michael Succow Foundation and the Institute of Botany at the Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan now newly allows a comprehensive expedition in Turkmenistan which is not easily accessible for foreigners. In Uzbekistan the Michael Succow Foundation has a MoU with the Main Administration of State Forests at the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources since 2011 and another MoU with the State Environmental Committee (Goskompriroda) since 2013.


The project „Biodiversity protection builds bridges in arid Central Asia“ is part of the DAAD-programme „Preventing conflicts in the regions of Southern Caucasus, Central Asia and Moldova“ funded by the German Federal Foreign Office. It is jointly conducted with the Institute of Botany and Landscape Ecology of Greifswald University. The foundation and the institute have long-time cooperations for the protection of nature in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.



DAAD                Auswärtiges Amt



Project coordination:

Jens Wunderlich, email: jens.wunderlich(at)succow-stiftung.de