Transnational nomination of cold winter deserts of Central Asia as UNESCO World Heritage
After more than two years of intensive preparation, on 28 January the States Parties Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan submitted their documents for the nomination of the Cold Winter Deserts of Turan as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site to the World Heritage Centre in Paris.
The transnational nomination includes a total of 15 components from seven protected areas of the three countries. Under a Memorandum of Understanding that is part of the nomination, the States Parties agreed on transnational mechanisms for the management and protection of the nominated site, which has a total area of about 3.4 million hectares.
The Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the Cold Winter Desert of Turan is justified by the significant ongoing ecological and biological processes in the cold winter deserts, as well as their importance as habitat for globally threatened animal and plant species.
The nomination process received scientific and organizational support from the CADI project. The basis for the joint approach was laid in January 2020 during a CADI workshop on the Island of Vilm. At the end, the 25 representatives of the three countries expressed their will to jointly prepare the nomination within the Vilm Declaration.
One year before the submission of the nomination documents, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have already added the site “Winter Cold Deserts of Turan” to their national lists of proposals (“tentative list”) in January 2021.
The winter-cold deserts of Central Asia have not yet been included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List. A recent study by the IUCN emphasizes that they have the potential for this.