Scientific Information Center of Interstate Commission for Water Coordination in Central Asia, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Abstract. Heads of State of the Central Asian Republics recognized the impossibility of restoring the Aral Sea in its former volume and biologically activity in 1994. Since then, the governments of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have taken measures to stabilize the situation. This paper summarizes the work of the Interstate Commission for Water Coordination in Central Asia on possible ways forward.
Keywords: Aral Sea, desertification, system of polders, afforestation 1. Introduction
The Aral Sea case is world renowned as an example of human-induced catastrophe, as a result of which one of the largest inland seas on the globe has been transformed into a number of unproductive water bodies with highly concentrated waters. From 1960 to 2000, the Aral Sea lowering reached about 20 m in the Large Sea and about 14 m in the Small Sea, the coastline receded 130 km, the water volume decreased more than 70%, and the water surface area diminished from 68,000 km to 23,000 km2. With the exposure of the seabed, approximately 4 million hectares of environmentally hazardous zone has been created and the desertification process has intensified. A group of extremely unstable landscapes, comprising types of sand and solonchak occupies a huge 35% of the area. Salt transfer towards settlements and the movement of unfixed sand towards functioning roads and economic enterprises cause a direct risk. The zone of active salt and dust transfer from the deflation sources that threatens those enterprises extends to 50-70 km. Degradation of the resource potential in the Aral Sea has become irreversible, and its preservation and restoration is not possible in the nearest future.
The impossibility of restoring the Aral Sea in its biologically active form and original volume was recognized by the Central Asian states through "The Concept for Socio-Economic and Environmental Development in the Aral Sea and its Coastal Zone (Priaralie)", which was adopted by the Heads of State in January 11, 1994. The Governments of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan took respective measures and decisions that largely contributed to stabilization of the situation in Priaralie and to the development of its
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living and environmental capacities. Meanwhile, the future of the Aral Sea itself remains problematic and is still on the regional agenda, but both countries use their own scenarios for problem solution.
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