Uzbekistan joined the BIOFIN Initiative in 2021. The UNDP Country Office in Tashkent in collaboration the Government of Uzbekistan reviewing its biodiversity finance strategies and policies. The project employs a participatory and inclusive approach to ensure the interests of a wide range of local stakeholders in the process, including the public, non-governmental and private sectors. In particular, the BIOFIN Uzbekistan project team works in close collaboration and coordination with the relevant ministries and agencies (natural resources, economy and finance, forestry, hydrometeorology, agriculture, and water), as well as with civil society organizations (birds protection, beekeepers, and others).
Photo: Endangered Bukhara deers (Lat. Cervus elaphus bactrianus) in the protected tugai forests on the banks of Amudarya river (Source: Meteojurnal)
Uniquely located in the heart of Central Asia, doubly landlocked Uzbekistan has borders with every country of the region and occupies an area of 447.4 thousand square kilometers (about 44.9 million hectares), of which 425.4 thousand square kilometers (42.6 million hectares) or 95% is a land (56th in the world). The diversity of natural conditions in Uzbekistan includes vast plains occupied by different types of deserts, mountain steppes, forests and alpine meadows, tugai thickets and waterbodies. These form characteristic ecosystems that host rich flora and fauna.
Uzbekistan's diverse ecosystems include deserts and semi-deserts (37.1 million hectares or almost 83% of the total area), mountains and foothills (5.2 million hectares or 13% of the land area), the Aral Sea, other rivers and water bodies, forests, etc. Natural landscapes with varying degrees of anthropogenic disturbance on around 82% of the country's territory, including 18% of completely transformed territories (arable lands, settlements, industrial enterprises, etc.). Protected areas make up 12% of Uzbekistan's land.
The climate in Uzbekistan is sharply continental and arid (UNEP aridity index: from 0.02 to 0.62), the country's territory is subject to intensive desertification and droughts. The territory of Uzbekistan is characterized by features of a continental, subtropical climate with large seasonal and daily fluctuations in air temperature. One of the features of the climate of Uzbekistan is a hot long summer.
The scarce water resources of the country are formed by the surface runoff of the major Syrdarya and Amudarya rivers (55%), small rivers (33%), groundwater (about 10%), collector-drainage flow (2%). In total, there are more than 17 thousand natural watercourses in the country, most of which are less than 10 km long. More than 500 lakes of various shapes, sizes and origins are unevenly distributed throughout the country, majority with less than 1 km2 surface area. Climate change, coupled with growing economic activity in the region, further exacerbate water scarcity in Uzbekistan, resulting in increased duration and frequency of droughts and posing serious problems for the economy and ecosystems. The total water deficit in Uzbekistan is forecasted to increase from current more than 3 billion cubic meters to 7 billion cubic meters by 2030 and to 15 billion cubic meters by 2050. Over the past 15 years, the availability of water per capita decreased from 3048 cubic meters to 1589 cubic meters.
The biodiversity of Uzbekistan includes about 27 thousand currently known species. Among them, higher vascular plants, mosses, lichens, fungi and algae number about 11 thousand species, representatives of the fauna - more than 15.6 thousand species. The endemism of higher vascular plants in Uzbekistan is about 8%. Relic endemics make up 10-12% of the total number of endemic species.