Location and Values: The Western Tien-Shan world heritage site lies in central Asia, at the western end of the magnificent Tian Shan mountain range, one of the seven largest mountain ranges in the world. It is a serial site that includes 13 separate components spread across seven reserves in the border area shared by Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan & Uzbekistan. The reserves cover an enormous diversity of habitats and range in altitude from 700m to over 4,500m. The site is especially important as one of 12 global centres of origin for agrobiodiversity, providing habitat for the wild progenitors of various nuts, fruits, cereals, spices and other cultivated plants. It also supports a significant diversity of temperate plants and animals, including 61 species of mammals and 316 species of birds. These include some globally threatened species, such as the eastern imperial eagle, great bustard, snow leopard, dhole and Menzbier’s marmot.
Conservation Status and Prospects. According to IUCN’s Conservation Outlook Assessment (2017) the conservation status of the Western Tien-Shan is of ‘significant concern’. The IUCN report notes that the boundaries of the component reserves and their buffer zones need to be re-assessed and modified to ensure that they follow ecological principles and address landscape connectivity requirements. There is further concern over the very limited level of transboundary cooperation in management and the lack of a cohesive and integrated approach to the management of the various component parts. Nevertheless, despite these shortcomings, IUCN recognizes that the protection and management of the individual reserves appears to be adequate and threats are currently at a low level. The main pressures on the world heritage site are low-level poaching, cattle grazing, illegal logging, hay collection and illegal harvesting of flowers.
UNESCO Official Website
IUCN Conservation Outlook
UNEP-WCMC Site Description