How can scientists contribute to biodiversity conservation in the drylands of Eastern and Central Asia?
Professor Norikazu Yamanaka from Tottori University, Japan, moderated this panel. The presenters were Prof. Kristina Toderich, Uzbek's Academy of Science, Uzbekistan, Mr. Lkhagvasuren Badamjav, WWF Mongolia Programme Office, and Prof. Yukihiro Morimoto, Kyoto University, Japan.
Prof. Toderich presented a study of ecosystem strategies through an assessment of plant diversity in the Kyzylkum Desert in Uzbekistan. The area of study is part of a desert corridor stretching from the Gobi to the Sahara Desert. She said the flora of the desert is very rich but sensitive to climate change with three important trends: the disappearance of species, an increase in invasive plant species and changes in plant communities. Among the potential contribution of science to drylands, she highlighted support to plant diversity conservation, highlighting the value of pastoralism and science-based assessments of conservation needs.
Presentation of Mrs. Toderich
A Gap Analysis of Biodiversity Conservation in Mongolia was the focus of Mr. Lkhagvasuren Badamjav, which focused on the biodiversity hotspots of selected ecosystems in four eco-regions. Mining and grazing, he said, are threats to biodiversity in Mongolia. He said science could contribute to awareness raising and transboundary collaboration in biodiversity conservation. Mr. Badamjav reported that Mongolia has made a commitment to protect one-third of its territoryâ€“ an area the size of France â€“ by 2030.
Presentation of Mr. Lkhagvasuren
Prof Morimoto’s presentation focused on the Aral Sea’s Desertification and Conservation of Biodiversity. He said biodiversity is an important indicator of sustainability, and in this region, the Caspian Tiger and predator pelicans served this purpose. The study highlighted the changes in vegetation types by water usage and assessed the effectiveness of the dam constructed to save the sea. He concluded that scientific studies needed to focus on ecosystem changes and proposed changes that could restore the river mouth of the delta.
Presentation of Prof. Morimoto
Summarizing how science could contribute to biodiversity conservation in the East and Central Asia’s deserts and drylands, Prof. Yamanaka highlighted: the long-term and long-range monitoring of environmental processes and ecologies; data on change in animal and plant species; analyses of zones of change, clarifying why land is degraded and the numbers of plants and animals change; and multidisciplinary studies that are based on eco-regions as opposed to countries, and focusing on different levels, from the local to the global.