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Why ecocide threatens Kyrgyzstan

Officials of the State Agency for Environment Protection and Forestry (SAEPF) took a surprising stance. In response to the initiative of the Kyrgyz civil activists to save the forests of the country and to stop their barbaric felling, the agency answered: you are the crooks.

Environmentalists, experts and journalists sent a petition to the President. Kyrgyzstanis ask Almazbek Atambayev to reform the environmental protection system and to bring to justice those responsible for creating harmful for environment conditions in Kyrgyzstan.

Appeal to the head of state came after numerous and years-long attempts of environmentalists and activists to reach out leadership of relevant departments, but in vain.

The SAEPF believes that the forestry situation is quite tolerable.

But environmentalists are sounding the alarm: area of fallen forests is increasing from year to year. There are no new plantings or they are negligible.

Forests cover 4.6 percent of the territory of Kyrgyzstan.

The National Academy of Sciences has tried to offer assistance to officials. But it was ignored too.

Academician Biymyrza Toktoraliev with colleagues noted that Kyrgyzstan's forests produce 25–30 percent of the primary production. Their biological productivity is significantly higher than meadow ones and it significantly exceeds agricultural ecosystems. Therefore, expansion of forest areas in Kyrgyzstan is of paramount importance, the scientist has repeatedly noted.

What do the activists worry about?

1. Illegal felling of coniferous forests and other forests

2. Illegal issue of hunting licenses, poaching and existing corrupt structure of hunting for foreigners, the activities to which cause a huge damage to the state and nature of the country.

3. Corruptness of government institutions, empowered to wildlife conservation (environment, ecology, flora and fauna, ecosystems and conservation of protected areas, the anthropogenic impact zones, transformed lands)

SAEPF management assures that tens of thousands of seedlings are planted every year. However, the officials do not voice the specific figures and do not indicate the exact locations of areas where new forests are planted.

More than 4,000 of cut trees have been registered only in Karakol forestry two years ago.

Environmentalists emphasize that this figure has increased multiply. Forest is fallen not only in Issyk-Kul region. A massive deforestation takes place in almost all regions of the Kyrgyz Republic.

Illegal logging has begun even in the walnut-fruit Arslanbob forests.

Arslanbob has a global significance — genetic reserve of the planet is situated on an area of 500,000 hectares.

Forests of Kyrgyzstan became a «base» of a free chopping of wood for the locals.

Environmentalists propose a moratorium on deforestation (including sanitary and technical) until 2022, and to toughen the punishment up to criminal penalties for all the facts of illegal logging, regardless of the time of the offense.

Kyrgyzstan needs a state program on planting of fast-growing forests to address the lack of wood, and for the restoration of the fallen forest.

10 years ago, according to the then head of SAEPF Bekbolot Mamatairov, 821 facts of illegal logging at a total amount of 18 million soms had been registered.

Number of such facts today reaches thousands.

In 2013, new forest areas amounted to only 20 hectares. This figure has grown for a miserable amount over the past four years.

SAEPF promises to plant more than 2 million hectares of new trees in 2017. But reporters have not been able to get the exact address, where and when it will be done.

The agency’s management called the activists who appealed to the President the lobbyists of foreign interests. The «solution» to the problem was considered as complete.

The area of the state forest fund is 3.3 million hectares, 865,000 ha of which is the area covered with forests. At the same time, there is a reduction in their density.

According to the National Academy of Sciences, in theory, annually grown tree planting material in the amount of 20 million should provide forest area increase of 10,000-15,000 hectares.

But Kyrgyzstan almost lacks forest restoration.