UN: Salinization of irrigated land remains a major problem in Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, Dec. 24th / Trend, H. Hasanov /
According to a review conducted by the Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), despite taken measures, the salinization of irrigated land, desertification and loss of biodiversity are the most pressing environmental problems in Turkmenistan, the UN News Centre informed.
The review draws attention to the loss of biodiversity. The most striking example is the reduction of the country's sturgeon, Caspian seal and leopard populations. Recently, natural forests (eg. Haloxylon, riparian, pistachio and juniper forests) have been significantly reduced and degraded.
The paper assesses the progress made in the country since 2000. It deals with 13 major issues related to the development, implementation and financing of environmental policy, climate change, water management, air quality, waste management, energy, forestry, land management and cooperation with other countries in the field of environment protection.
As mentioned in the review, steady economic growth, mainly due to the production and export of hydrocarbons (especially natural gas) has been witnessed in Turkmenistan during the last decade.
Between 2000 and 2010, the average annual growth of the real GDP was about 13% and the average real per capita income in the same period increased threefold and reached $6,611.
In the early 2000s, Turkmenistan began the development of its environmental policies and programs. Air protection, the development of "green belts", the protection of water, land and forest resources and biodiversity are amongst state policy priorities. At present, Turkmenistan is a party to 11 international environmental agreements.
Water management is a key issue for Turkmenistan. Almost 90% of the country's water is used for irrigation. But water for irrigation is often doesn't meet state mineralization standards: chloride and sulfate content exceed permissible limits. This has caused the salinity of more than 60% of agricultural land.
Significant loss of water along with extensive use of obsolete methods of irrigation lead to water logging.
The review contains 67 recommendations for improving environmental management in Turkmenistan.