In Kyrgyzstan, women are increasingly joining the rangers or “the stewards of nature” protecting the unique ecosystems of the mountains and the forests. Nurgul Omorova and Aitmyrza kyzy Erkegul are among them, who have already worked as the rangers for several years, and know about poaching, prevention methods and struggling with it. They have told to UNDP Kyrgyzstan what encourages them in their difficult and traditionally perceived as “men’s” occupation.
Nurgul has been working as a ranger for the second year in the Nature Park “Alatay” that is located in the mountain system of the Western Tian Shan. Before she has worked in the area of paperwork management, bookkeeping and taken different administrative posts. However, her “love for nature and eagerness to contribute to the conservation of the treasure in Western Tian Shan” have helped her to choose this work.
As Nurgul shares protection of the forest and in general nature of her country becomes a part of her life: “You should be always vigilant because the poachers have neither day-offs nor holidays and they are always active. I am doing my job along with other rangers, but the secret of the ranger’s art is simple – it is necessary to love the forest and its every inhabitant. And they will do the same”.
Our other hero is Erkegul, she became a community ranger in the Nature Park “Kan-Achuu” last year. She actively helps the rangers to do their work on nature preservation together with volunteers and residents from her village. Additionally, she also educates locals and contributes to the development of the environmental education of the youth and the children.
“It is not a secret that the absence of the income often leads to poaching and engagement in other illegal activities related to nature. Therefore, I often meet with local communities and tell them that it is necessary to take care of and preserve nature. Because the right interaction with its resources provides a palpable profit for local development. Furthermore, the preservation of nature in its original form is a great gift for future generations. Our parks and forests have a good capacity for the development of tourism and the number of tourists from foreign countries is increasing. We have had problems related to the absence of horses, binocular and radio sets. The UNDP has purchased them for us – the rangers, everything required for field works, raids and expeditions. Now it has become easier to work”, - Erkegul shared her thoughts.
The significant part of Western Tian Shan is included in the list of the global hotspots of biodiversity and located in Kyrgyzstan. This region is now in danger of the biological species extinction due to the loss of the habitat and climate change. In 2016, Western Tian Shan was recognized to be a transboundary natural object of the UNESCO World Heritage as one of the priority ecological regions in the world. Having a rich and globally important diversity of the flora and the fauna this territory needs careful attitude and a special approach for its preservation and further development. In this context, in 2016 state Nature Parks “Alatay” and “Kan-Achuu” – in Toktogul and Toguz-Toro districts were established on the territory of Western Tian Shan. Their purpose was to preserve the unique biodiversity, to protect rare animals and plants that are in danger of extinction. The UNDP carries out comprehensive work in these parks to strengthen their capacity and provides support to the rangers that play a considerable role in ensuring their stable operation.
The UNDP/GEF project “Conservation of globally important biodiversity and associated land and forest resources of Western Tian Shan mountain ecosystems to support sustainable livelihoods” aims to assist in promotion of the landscape approach to protection and conservation of globally important biodiversity, sustainable land and forest resources management in the mountains of Western Tian Shan in the Kyrgyz Republic. The project is planned for five years and is being implemented in partnership with the State Agency for Environmental Protection and Forestry and other partners.