Local and international organizations participated in the plantation. Image Credit: Courtesy of Forestry Agency Uzbekistan

Environment Uzbekistan24. June 2024

From Dried-up Sea to Thriving Forest

Nearly 200,000 hectares of forest are planted where the Aral Sea once was – a lake almost completely dried up.

“I could not believe it when plans were going to transform the dried Aralkum Desert into a forest,” says Gulzira, one of the locals now involved in the afforestation project.

Between the borders of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, the Aral Sea is parched and shrouded by layers of toxic salt and dust. It is, unfortunately, taking a toll on the health and farmlands of the nearby communities. Once the Aral Sea nearly completely dried out, the Aralkum desert began to emerge. Now, a plan is underway to establish forests by planting desert-tolerant plants across nearly 200,000 hectares of the dried-out lakebed. The new “forest” is expected to see new economic opportunities, such as creating new regional jobs and ecotourism and timber production. The project is already largely underway, with more and more plants taking root daily and aiding in curbing the harmful effects of sandstorms on the local communities.


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