Kyrgyzstan, in Central Asia, is blessed with beautiful, wild and mountainous landscapes, exceptional wildlife, a rich culture and a deeply generous and hospitable people. Their traditions are founded on the principles of co-existence with nature and a deep respect for the land.
Although forests account for a relatively small area of land in Kyrgyzstan, the country is notably home to significant tracts of globally important fruit-and-nut forest. Characterised by ancient walnut stands, these forests also harbour a wide variety of other fruit- and nut-bearing trees, including wild apple, pear, cherry, plum, pistachio and almond. Many of these species are the ancestors of today’s domesticated varieties, and are an important storehouse of genetic diversity.
However, this is also a country of change and of economic extremes, where the modest successes of market reforms in the capital city Bishkek contrast starkly with the crippling poverty in rural areas.
This poverty is forcing local people to use natural resources at a rate that is driving some species, such as the snow leopard, towards extinction. This overexploitation is destroying the delicate natural balance that their ancestors maintained for generations.