World Natural Heritage Beš Aral

An Initiative of Alliance For Nature

SchneeleopardIn summer 2004, Dipl.Ing.Christian Schuhböck, landscape ecologist from Vienna, visited all the landscapes and cultural monuments in Kirigstan that the government of this Central Asian country considered to submit for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Travelling by car, jeep and on horseback, he visited a series of buildings, objects of the cultural and historical heritage as well as forest and lake landscapes around the famous Lake Issykul, in the Tien-Shan - mountains and along the Silk Road. Compared to the more than 250 other World Heritage Sites the Austrian experts had visited over the past 10 years he found only one of the Kirgistan sites worthy of becoming UNESCO heritage, i.e. the several thousand years old stone inscriptions of Saymaluu-Tash at approx. 4000 meters above sea level. Schuhböck reported on his findings to the Kirgistan National Commission for UNESCO, including his reservations concerning some of the envisaged nominations. Instead, the ecologist suggested the area of Beš Aral in Western Kirgistan as potential natural heritage because it is habitat to extremely rare animal species such as the red wolf and the snow leopard. The so far hardly protected area in which poaching is going on, ought to profit from the protection of the international community, thus safeguarding the survival of mountain goose, red wolf and snow leopard.

In a meeting on July 20th, 2004, this suggestion was discussed with Ms. Adash Toktosunova, Secretary General of the Kirgistan National Commission for UNESCO, and Prof. Emil Shukurov, University of Bishkek; on this occasion, Christian Schuhböck in his capacity as Secretary General of Alliance for Nature, a Vienna-based association for the protection of nature, culture and landscapes, offered to elaborate the necessary documentation for a possible initiative “World Natural Heritage Beš Aral”. The minutes of the meeting stipulate to introduce the Beš Aral area in the tentative list and to nominate it at the earliest possible date. The minutes were signed as the official basis for future procedures on World Natural Heritage project Beš Aral on August 2nd, 2004 in Bishkek, the capital of Kirgistan.

In December 2004, Alliance for Nature was informed that Kirgistan had established a special commission for the nomination of potential world heritage sites. In March 2005, Christian Schuhböck was invited to a talk with the Kirgistan Ambassador in Vienna, in which he was told that the Kirgistan government is intending to prepare the nomination of the Beš Aral area already in the course of this year and that Mr.Schuhböck should come to Bishkek to study and work on the relevant scientific documents.

Mr.Schuhböck and other members of Alliance for Nature would be happy to undertake this task, they are, however, not in a position to come up for incurring expenses, particularly as far as the flight Vienna-Bishkek-Vienna and the subsistence costs in Kirgistan are concerned. Therefore, the organization Alliance for Nature would kindly ask for relevant support.

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