National system of desertification monitoring

The desert occupies around 80 percent of the territory of Turkmenistan and natural lands and arable fields are more or less subjected to desertification. These processes are worsen by natural factors like mud streams, sandstorms and Caspian and Aral Seas level fluctuations. Complex of measures on revival and rational use of natural resources are developed in the country for control of land degradation. The key role in this versatile work is given to the monitoring of environment performed by scientific and research institutes and production organizations. National Institute of Desert, Flora and Fauna of the State Committee for Natural Protection and Land Resources developed complex of measures aimed at achievement of ecological welfare. Leading scientist of the Institute Aman Babayev told how this works:

- Turkmenistan was one of the first states that ratified the UN Convention to Combat the Desertification in 1996 and after one year started the implementation of National Action Plan in this sphere. National Strategy on climate change as well as National Forest Programme within its framework are also implemented; targeted activities in Aral Sea Zone, Avaza National tourist zone are continued. The country gained unique experience in the Central Asia in prevention of lands degradation and combat the desertification, fortification of migrating sands, study of local conditions of the desert after laying of the railway and automobile roads and development of natural protection measures during their construction and operation.

Timely detection, early prevention, efficient evaluation and mapping of different states of desertification, especially near production facilities are necessary during planning stage of any works and natural protection activities. Based on received data, recommendations for restoration activities are developed.

Aerospace and geographic information systems allowing the scientists monitoring the territories difficult to access with rugged climate conditions, receiving precise and impartial information considerably reducing scientific research cost. Distant methods, GIS technologies and aerospace footages are widely used in monitoring researches.

Comparative analysis of the images allows monitoring the dynamic of the processes of desertification and forecast its development. At present moment, the map of geo ecological situations, which is to be a valuable aid in work of climatologists, biologists, geographers, road constructors, oil and gas producers, are developed based on desert study information.

Creation of basic and subject maps are the main result of distant monitoring researches. As for today, different area and scale maps reflecting environmental conditions in various regions of the country and allowing taking immediate and long-term decisions in management of natural resources and combat the soil degradation have been made.

Long scientific studies of National Institute of Desert, Flora and Fauna become the basis for the development of the concept of national monitoring of different types of desertification like degradation of vegetation, deflation of sands, water erosion, salinization of lands, flood of pastries, anthropogenic desertification. Integrated soil restoration studies are carried out in irrigated lands zones. As the result, large information on land, water and pastries resources was collected and maps are drawn.

The Institute implements integrated analysis and desertification prevention system as well has an organization structure stipulating versatile cooperation, training of the specialists and providing of different services to ministries and organizations involved in land management.

Large attention is paid to joint scientific developments. Thus, National Institute of Desert, Flora and Fauna together with Institute of Biology and Medicinal Plants and Technological Centre of the Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan carry out works on composition of geo botanical characteristics of undeveloped territories of the Karakum desert including along collectors system of Turkmen Lake Altyn Asyr for many years.

Special attention in work for monitoring of the desertification processes is paid to the region bordering with Aral Sea Zone under the chairmanship of our country in the International Fund for Saving of Aral Sea. It is supposed that the Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan, National Committee for Hydrometeorology, Ministry of Agriculture and Water Management and its scientific and research institutes, the State Committee for Statistics and universities of the country will take part in this joint work. Scientific and Information Centre of one of the regional working agencies of the IFAS – the Interstate Commission for Sustainable Development, which is entitled with management of regional cooperation in environmental protection and with coordination of activities for implementation of natural protection conventions of the UN, which have transboundary aspect, are among the potential partners. Scientific data gathered by the Institute are used at the ecological monitoring, ecological design and ecological expertise lectures in Magtumguly Turkmen State University.