Commentary: Reserve management during transition: The case of Issyk-Kul Biosphere and Nature Reserves, Kyrgyzstan

Diana Ter-Ghazaryan, Joel T. Heinen

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Protected areas have been an integral part of contemporary nature protection for about a century and a half. One of the most interesting protected area networks was designed in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Here, we present a case study of the history of a particular state nature reserve (or zapovednik) in Kyrgyzstan, using key informant interviews and reviews of current and historical documents. We examine the management of this area from the time of its creation under Soviet rule, through the collapse of the USSR, to the present day. We also make policy recommendations for the future, given the profound changes in the post-Soviet economy and political structure. We conclude that the collapse of the USSR has inflicted numerous changes on the environmental protection sector in Kyrgyzstan, but that the Issyk-Kul Nature Reserve continues to be run according to the Soviet paradigm, with a few minor adjustments. Funding structures and mechanisms for the support of conservation and other environmental issues are of paramount importance in the changing economic climate and democratization throughout the former USSR. Our work can be used as a template for studying protected areas in the region and lays the groundwork for more comparative research that could be carried out in and around Kyrgyzstan's other protected areas and those in other republics of the former USSR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-23
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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