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Премия рунета 2017

Ile-Balkhash: riparian forests – to be alive!

08 november 2018
The first planting of young trees took place at the Ile-Balkhash State Nature Reserve in November,. Over the past decade, local forests have suffered greatly from large-scale fires and water shortages in the Ili River and Lake Balkhash. Restoration of tugai thickets is carried out here as a component of the tiger reintroduction program.

The release of the first predators is planned after 2023. This will be possible only in condition of the achieving the required density of the ungulate populations, which are the major component  of the tiger’s prey base. And ungulates need forests for a comfortable life in the reserve.
Fires and lack of water in Lake Balkhash and the Ili river delta rooted away up to 60% of the unique tugai forests of the Southern banks of Balkhash Lake.

The special role of these forests is very important - the ri9parian forests vegetation (“tugai”) participate in the water regulation of the Lake Balkhash and the Ili river delta. Besides that, the tugai forests are home to wild boar, roe deer and Bukhara deer. If we don’t restore the forests, than there will be very little hope of returning Bukhara deer and tigers to these places. That is why, with the support of WWF, the first 2100 seedlings of the oleaster  (Elaeagnus), or dzhida, as the locals call it, were planted along the channels in the Balkhash cluster of the reserve. It will be clear in spring, how many of them will manage to survive.

“To be honest, I didn’t even expect that we will have time to start planting trees  already this year,” says Grigory Mazmaniants, director of the WWF Russia Central Asian programme, “ we managed to do it only thanks to the Forest Department of the Ile-Balkhash Reserve, those  people are real enthusiasts of their work. I am sure that some time will pass, and soon there will be tugai, deer, roe deer, wild boar and, of course, tigers all over the entire delta of the Ili River and the Southern banks of Balkhash Lake”.

Grigory Mazmanyants also said that the plans include not only new planting of oleaster, Asiatic poplar and willows, but also the creation of nurseries of these trees.

Photos: (c) Maxim Levitin