NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan – Within five years, the main share of the planting of 2 billion trees in Kazakhstan will be carried out at the expense of sowing saxaul, including on the dried bottom of the Aral Sea.
“The nature protection and forestry institutions of the mayors’ offices will plant 1.1 billion trees on the territory of 464,000 hectares, the largest volumes of forest planting is expected in Turkestan, Kyzylorda, Zhambyl regions. The main share of these volumes will be carried out due to sowing saxaul, including on the dried bottom of the Aral Sea,” Kazakhstan’s Ecology Minister Magzum Mirzagaliyev told a government meeting on December 10.
The diversion of water from the Syr Darya and Amu Darya rivers, which fed the sea, into canals for irrigation of cotton, rice and other agricultural crops caused the ecological catastrophe of the Aral Sea. Scientific and state institutions, departments and enterprises, international organizations and foundations have been working on solving the problem of the disappearance of the Aral Sea for many years.
In the central regions of the republic, forest planting will be carried out by the main forest-forming species, such as pine, spruce, birch. In addition, about 200 million trees will be planted on the territory of national parks and reserves on an area of 62,500 hectares. Through compensatory planting and international grants, it is planned to plant 700 million trees on an area of 182,000 hectares.
The Minister also announced measures to toughen the punishment for illegal felling of trees. So, after making additions to the Model Rules for the maintenance and protection of green spaces, compensatory planting of trees in thirtyfold size will be provided for illegal felling, destruction, damage of trees listed in the Red Book of Kazakhstan, also a tenfold planting for the death of green spaces in the adjacent territory of individuals and legal entities. Previously, these norms were not included in these rules.
In addition, the penalty for causing damage to the Red Book trees will be increased from 4 to 500 MCI, and for their felling – from 6 to 1000 MCI.
According to the amendments to the Criminal Code, violators will be involved in community service for 160 hours for illegal felling of trees or arrested for up to 40 days.
“Thus, large-scale measures for the reproduction of forests and afforestation will increase the area of forest plantations and will help achieve the goal of increasing the country’s forest cover to 5% by 2030,” Mirzagaliyev added.
Kazakhstan belongs to low-forested states, the total area of forest lands is 30 million hectares and occupies 11% of the country’s territory. Forested lands occupy 13 million hectares. The forest cover of the country is 4.8%.
The largest areas of forests are located in the Kyzylorda and Zhambyl regions. These are mainly saxaul plantations. And in the East Kazakhstan and Almaty regions, where the reserves of the most valuable tree species, such as fir, cedar, larch, and spruce, are concentrated.