Protecting Nature's Hotspots for people and prosperity

CEPF to Provide Conservation Funding to the Mountains of Central Asia

Verkhnyaya Alaarcha, Chuy, Kyrgyzstan, © Evgeniy Khilkevitch​

The Mountains of Central Asia biodiversity hotspot, which includes portions of seven countries and is host to very high levels of plant and animal diversity and endemism, will be the beneficiary of millions of dollars in grant funding for conservation from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF). 

The hotspot includes southern Kazakhstan, most of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, eastern Uzbekistan, western China, northeastern Afghanistan and a small part of Turkmenistan. Within the 863,362 km2 covered by this hotspot, endangered species like the snow leopard (Panthera uncia), saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica) and Marco Polo sheep (Ovis ammon polii) roam among some of the world's highest mountains. The hotspot is global center of cultivars for domesticated crops, including the apple, pear, peach, apricot, cherry and walnut. Glacial waters from the high Kyrgyz and Tajik mountains are the main source of drinking water, irrigation and hydropower for the entire region.

Following a January 20, 2016, decision by the CEPF Donor Council, the Fund will soon begin the process of planning the funding program for this biodiversity hotspot, which provides vital resources for people, such as fresh water and food. The effort will start with development of an ecosystem profile, which is a stakeholder-informed document that analyzes the state of the hotspot’s biodiversity, natural areas and human well-being, and sets forth a conservation strategy for CEPF and other donors. CEPF expects to issue a call for proposals for development of the ecosystem profile in early 2016.  

Biodiversity hotspots are the world’s most biologically rich yet threatened terrestrial areas. To qualify as a hotspot, a region has to meet two criteria: it has to contain at least 1,500 species of vascular plants as endemics and it has to have 30% or less of its original vegetation remaining. The Mountains of Central Asia will be the 25th biodiversity hotspot that CEPF has invested in. Click here for more information on the hotspot.