The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility are implementing an environmental project in Turkmenistan aimed at sustainable management of land resources and combating desertification and drought. The project titled "Capacity-building and On-the-Ground Investments for Sustainable Land Management" is being implemented jointly with the Ministry of Nature Protection of Turkmenistan and GTZ in three natural zones of Turkmenistan - Nohur, Karakum and Sakarchaga located in Akhal and Mary provinces.
According to a press release issued by UNDP, the project supported the initiative of the local population in the project area Nohur to adjust the number of livestock and, as an alternative, develop horticulture and fruit gardening with the view of preventing degradation of pastures. The project conducted a hydrogeological research that resulted in drilling four wells for irrigation purposes and building 17 dams of various sizes to prevent erosion of soil. The local population also planted fruit trees in the area of 10 ha that are watered by drip irrigation for the development of fruit gardening. Seedlings of Turkmen juniper were also planted in the area of 42 ha to restore juniper forests.
In the project area Karakum the project supported the construction of eight new and repairing of six existing wells for even and rational use of desert pastures in remote areas. The project helped local people to build mechanical protections made of reed mats and seedlings of Haloxylon in the area of 27 ha to stop the advance of sand dunes around villages.
In the project area Sakarchaga work is under way to introduce high-quality drainage systems and land reclamation technologies to prevent degradation of cultivated lands and restore saline lands. The project activities resulted in restoration of 50 ha of degraded land that can be now used in agriculture. About 35 ha of land were prevented from degradation though preventive leveling. In addition, a new collector-channel was built, and the existing collector was cleaned. The project also assisted in constructing nine water-regulating and two water-gauge installations.
Overall, the project regularly holds workshops for land users on the possible application of various advanced methods of agriculture and the effective use of water resources. A significant part of the project activities is related to research work such as inventory and grazing of pastures, monitoring of pastures using satellite imagery, study of methods of fighting pest and stimulation of germination and growth of seedlings of juniper, as well as monitoring the salinity of lands in all three project areas.
In 2010, the project plans to finalize the community-based activities, conduct a series of trainings on pasture land management and sustainable agricultural management.