Restoration of Aral Sea

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Central Asian countries are focusing on the restoration of the Aral Sea. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan summed up the joint work on planting trees on the sea bed at a forum in Tashkent. Scientists and ecologists have conducted researches to find out the ways to restore the dried up area of the sea. As a result of the extreme dryness of the Aral Sea, a new desert has emerged with an area of more than five million hectares. Saxauls or large shrubs and other trees were planted on 400, 000 hectares of the area. In the next 10 years, the area with planted trees is expected to expand to one million hectares. Every year, thousands of tonnes of dust, sand and salt are raised from the bottom of the sea and carried away by the wind. Scientists of the Central Asian countries discussed possibilities of using new technologies and innovative systems to solve the extreme dryness of the area.

In addition, the forum participants considered a package of project proposals aimed at improving the environmental and socio-economic situation in the region. Memorandums of cooperation with some organizations were also signed.

BORIY ALIKHANOV, DEPUTY SPEAKER, LEGISLATIVE CHAMBER, UZBEKISTAN:
- Work is being conducted to improve the living conditions of the population and the environmental situation as a whole. Problems of the region should be solved by joint efforts of the Central Asian countries, particularly Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. The problem of the extreme dryness of Aral Sea is one of the most urgent environmental problems of the entire world community.

VADIM SOKOLOV, HEAD, GEF AGENCY, INTERNATIONAL FUND FOR SAVING ARAL SEA:
- The weather is worsening in front of our eyes. We see how the dust rises from the bottom of the Aral Sea. Plantations of trees are designed to solve this problem. In addition, plantations allow not only restoring the sands and salt, but it will also allow grass to grow around the saxaul. This is necessary for development of the livestock.

Recently, the Qazaq Geography community has completed an expedition to the Aral Sea. Kazakh scientists have collected data on biodiversity of plankton species, levels of salt, phosphorus, acidity as well as hydrochemical and hydrobiological composition of the water. This will show the preliminary trend in developing the ecosystem of northern and southern parts of the Aral Sea. The result will be known after conducting complex studies. The expedition by Qazaq Geography covered nine regions of Kazakhstan and seven regions of Uzbekistan.