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Oasis around Mounts Syunt and Hasar

Protected by two ridges of Mounts Syunt and Hasar, the valley of the Sumbar river is a wonderful corner of nature. The endlessly long Aydere gorge, partly included in the Syunt-Hasardag State Nature Reserve of the Ministry of Agriculture and Environment Protection of Turkmenistan, stretches there. The river of the same name, repeating the bends of the canyon’s sides, has a fast and stormy current, many small waterfalls – the most beautiful one can be found in the side gorge of the Sumbar valley called Gochdemir, and also rapids, rifts, chutes and shallow areas where moisture-loving and aquatic plants cling to the walls. Walking along this wide corridor, you can imagine yourself in a botanical garden, looking at the tall elm trees, which in the East are called karagach. These fast-growing light-loving deciduous giants are able to withstand cold and heat equally well. The tree adorns both the south and the north of the country, thus attracting the attention of gardeners and ecologists. There, low trees of Acer turcomanicum coexist with thickets of barberry and wild rose, rare wild-growing trees of Malus turkmenorum and Pyrus boissieriana are hidden in the thick of the forest. The place near the water is occupied by walnut trees and white-trunked plane trees, wild grapes and lush blackberry bushes “cling” to smooth rocks, and fig and cherry plum trees have chosen the dry sides of

Parrots Live in the Parks of Ashgabat

For many decades, sparrows and ringdoves have been the habitual birds inhabiting the courtyards, public gardens and parks of Ashgabat. Each morning began with the cheerful chirping of joyous sparrows making a fuss in the courtyards and on flowerbeds and the clanging of modest, delicate ringdoves that fearfully took off frequently flapping, gained height, spreading their wings and tail, and landed thrown by Ashgabat well-wishers. When multi-storey buildings appeared in the capital, an increasing number of wild blue pigeons settled down in the attics and empty roofs of high-rise buildings. In the early 2000s, exotic common mynas. In spring and autumn, other birds can be seen in the city; they stop for rest and feeding during the flight. The desert species of avifauna can fly from the Karakum Desert to feast on flowers of the maclura and mulberry fruits. However, all these birds of the local or migratory feathered fraternity have long become familiar; their appearance, sounds of voices and habits have become easily recognisable.

In the Neighbourhood of “the Crocodiles of the Desert”

I spent my childhood up to 12 years in the desert, among salty takyrs and saxaul thickets. Nature was right in the palm of my hand – its riches, beauty and diversity were a gift for us, children, and the changeable weather of the Karakum Desert was something like a school of life and helped us grow up. The memory retained many meetings with different animals inhabiting the sandy hills, and each time it was a small, personal discovery for the boys who were always ready for new impressions and experiences. One story is about the desert monitor lizard, or zemzen in Turkmen – one of the most fascinating representatives of the fauna of Turkmenistan, an important element of natural ecosystems and a species that maintains the balance and regulates the numbers of rodents and other small animals. Nature has given it the most remarkable appearance among the inhabitants of the Karakum Desert. It is also called “the crocodile of the desert”, however in fact, it is just a large lizard with a head on a massive neck, a gaze of eyes protected by thick separate eyelids and a movable forked tongue. If you disturb the reptile, it begins to hiss menacingly and takes on a frightening look. The strong tail is its adornment and weapon.

Water is a valuable property

Our ancestors respected and rationally used water resources. Water is a primary necessity not only in the lives of people, but also in the lives of plants and animals. In this regard, our ancestors created numerous proverbs, such as «A drop of water is a grain of gold», «Soil is a treasure, water is a diamond», «Water decorates the earth, the swan decorates the water», «Water places are beautiful, waterless places are a desert» and we tried to observe them. This approach is due to the environmental conditions and the acute shortage of water for our people. That is why our people followed the traditions of farmers and could have a plentiful harvest with less water, could provide themselves with a normal way of life. They have gained valuable experience in the use of rainwater. Our wise forefathers, having gained valuable experience in the construction of water structures since ancient times, built such wonderful irrigation structures as the dam, jykyr, well, kariz, sardoba. They built Soltanbent, Gowshutbent in Murgap, Garribent on the Tejen River. They could water the arable land by raising the water higher with the help of dams. Our people used jykyr in the Dashoguz region and the Amuderya region to irrigate medium-sized arable land. They built a kariz to irrigate arable land in the mountainous areas of Ahal. Kariz is an underground irrigation facility made by hand, which incl

Responsible development: Nature, Economics and Technology

United by understanding the importance of a multifaceted and systemic dialogue on the development of the Caspian region, the five coastal states – Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan and Russia – are again preparing for a meeting already at the Second Caspian Economic Forum to determine further prospects for international cooperation in the Caspian region. The forum is to be held in Moscow in August this year. During two days, various discussion platforms will discuss the development of trade and economic relations among the states of the Caspian region, interaction in the fields of transport, infrastructure, energy and ecology. Cooperation with the Caspian states is one of the main priorities in the foreign policy of the President of Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan backs up important political decisions taken at the highest level with specific mutually beneficial projects that meet high international environmental standards. Historical Prologue

In the Land of Deep Canyons

Turkmenistan is the land of the most ancient civilisations, its centres of culture and agriculture of different time periods are an archaeological Klondike for the representatives of the scientific world. The very beautiful natural landscapes with a contrasting microclimate and unique nature, where ecosystems of mountains, deserts and the sea coexist, “breathe” with history. The Koytendag Mountains, a land of legends, unique natural monuments and distinctive traditions, attractive in the ecological, scientific, geological, historical, cognitive and aesthetic terms, have many notable natural attractions. The word “Koytendag” means “mountains of deep canyons”. There, the highest mountains in the country with deep lakes and long karst caves are located. The natural beauty of those places is mostly protected within the Koytendag State Natural Reserve of the Ministry of Agriculture and Environment Protection of Turkmenistan.

Saxaul Wood at Lake Zengi-Baba

In the north of Turkmenistan, there is a kind of green-blue oasis among the desert steppes with channels and collectors connecting the lakes, around which separate ecosystems, “islands of life”, surrounded by coastal shrub vegetation, have formed. The total area of the water basin of one of the largest lakes in the country, Zengi-Baba, is 2,470 hectares, it was formed as a result of filling the depression at the north-western side of the hill of the same name with collector-drainage waters coming from the agricultural areas of the Dashoguz velayat. The maximum depth in the eastern part of the reservoir reaches 16 metres. On the northern side, the Kangakyr upland adjoins the reservoir with a chink steep descent. The southern and eastern banks are gently sloping, on their sandy areas xerophytic vegetation, black saxaul woods and wormwood communities with the participation of saltworts, grows. Besides, in some places, there is the tamarisk and camel thorn, and reeds are well developed closer to the water. There is no permanently residing population in those places; distant-pasture animal husbandry is developed to a small extent.ö

Triumph of Peace and Good

From ancient times, many peoples have associated the arrival of spring with the beginning of a new life, permeated with joy from warm days and the blessed rays of the sun that awaken nature from winter sleep, when buds swell on the branches of trees, the first flowers bloom, and everything around is covered with a green carpet. The earth is entering a magical period of renewal of nature, and people celebrate this event with a big holiday, Nowruz, wishing good, warmth and prosperity to their neighbours. Living for centuries as a symbol of peace, friendship and good neighbourliness, colourful Nowruz was awarded international status as a phenomenon strengthening relations among states and popularising the historical and cultural traditions of the peoples of the East. Every year, on the eve of spring celebrations, themed exhibitions devoted to the national holiday of Nowruz are opened at the temples of art of our country.

Koytendag – the Land of the unique beauty and sound Health

Turkmenistan is a country extremely rich in historical, cultural and natural monuments. One of the most beautiful places in our country is the Koytendag region, which attracts travelers and leisure lovers with its magnificent sites and extraordinary natural beauty. This fabulously beautiful corner of our country is known all over the world for its mysterious grottoes and caves, majestic gorges, water cascades sparkling in the sun, amazing waterfalls and healing mountain lakes, as well as unique fauna and flora. Getting into any of the gorges, lakes and caves, one can find himself in the fantastic world filled with unique beauty peculiar only to the Koytendag mountains. The caves of the Koytendag mountains, also known as Garlyk caves, including Khashimoyuk, Gulshirin, Aralik, Kepderkhana, Kapkotan, Dashyurek are very popular among tourists. These caves are famous all over the world and a visit to them leaves an unforgettable experience. As invaluable natural attractions, the Garlyk Caves are considered worthy of being included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The underground caves of the Koytendag literally resemble the magnificent and unique palaces of the underworld. The beautiful halls, beautifully decorated with stalactites and stalagmites, are rich in beautiful forms, like in fairy tales. When light falls on magical halls covered with eternal darkness, amazing beauty aris

A Precious Gift of Nature

The complex of ecosystems of the Karakum and Kyzylkum Deserts with the exotic landscape of the arid zone and the change of unrepeatable areas of overgrown and mobile dunes, expanses of brackish, rocky, gravelly and clay-loamy soils of arid landscapes leaves an unforgettable impression. For all its seemingly unfriendliness towards travellers, this land is full of original and charming beauty. Anyone who has been there at least once, spent a night under the dome of bright stars in the steppe without electric lighting accompanying the highways and villages, will fall in love with that land forever. Such a person will be attracted by the memories of loose ridges of dunes, pink sunrise, the scorching sun of noon and a long fading sunset, brisk lizards and cheerful birdies of a bright and laced saxaul forest, fragrant herbs, night chirping sounds and a pile of saxaul coals smouldering in the night for a tea tuncha and long stories at the dastarkhan in the expedition bivouac.

Black Spots on Long Ears

We happened to see these charming animals before – in vicinity of Lake Sarykamysh and Zengi-baba, where a hare has where to hide. All it has to do is to dive into thicket of reeds or get lost amidst the trunks and branches of saxaul. However, this time we were lucky to see a tolai hare in the mountains in the territory of the Kopetdag Nature Reserve. The hare that had met few people, not frightened by them, was in no hurry to get away. It ran past us, amongst the tall bushes of blackberries and barberries, stopped and looked around. We froze – the hare was so close that we could see it. Black spots on its ears and paws became clearly visible in scarce grass when it jumped to the side. It turned out that hares live not only in tugay, near rivers, lakes and in the Karakum Desert, but also in the middle mountain belt. Scientists find the tolai hare in the mountains at an altitude of up to 2,500 metres above sea level, and they say that it is larger than the sandy hare.

Resources of the Zengibaba Lake

We can see the Akjagaya Basin, the Mergenashan Ravine, including Zengibaba area near the Gaplanggyr Reserve in the territory of the Dashoghuz Province. They are located in the desert area in 180 km. distance from the centre of the Dashoghuz Province and in 60 km. of south-west from the Ruhubelent township, at the foot of the Shasenem State Nature Reserve. These beautiful places of nature are remarkable for their geographic location, by their unique flora and fauna. According to the legend among the people once upon a time the saint person by the name Zengibaba lived in this part of the country. He was the god of cows. Sitting on top of the hill on the bank of the lake with fresh water, around which there was abundance of green grass Zengibaba pastured cows. The seven metre long grave of Zengibaba has preserved to our times on the top of the mentioned hill. The lake situated near it is called the Zengibaba Lake. The total area of the Zengibaba Lake is equal to 2470 hectares and the volume of water is equal to 140 cubic metres. It borders on the Shasenem State Reserve. This lake was formed as a result of flow of drains in the north-west of the Zengibaba Elevation. The deepest point of it reaching 16 metres of depth is situated in the eastern part of the lake. Large and small drains joining together form the 15 km. long lake. The bushes of tamarisk and ca

A Legend of the Great Balkhan

The Great Balkhan is a mountain range in the west of Turkmenistan, in the Balkan velayat, near the south-eastern coast of the Caspian Sea. The dry river bed separates it from the Small Balkhan and the western end of the Kopetdag ridge. The highest point of the Great Balkhan is Mount Arlan. The mountains are famous in all the surroundings, and the ridge itself looks like a fortress, towering over the surrounding plains. Many legends are associated with the mountain system of the Great Balkhan. Thus, there are widespread legends about the valour of people living in the mountains, who experienced many ordeals. One of the legends says that once the Great Balkhan abounded in mountain springs, but during one of the enemy raids, the locals clogged them with felt mats. When the enemies left, people failed to make the precious water come back. There is a hope in this legend that the water will return, and the surroundings of Balkhan will again turn into a blooming oasis.

On Useful Properties of Plants

The history of the development of therapeutic and daily nutrition, based on herbal ingredients, goes back to time immemorial. Since ancient times, the inhabitants of the oases at the foothills of the Kopetdag Mountains have cultivated the land and grown cereals, legumes, vegetables, fruit, melons and gourds, besides, they have traditionally collected edible wild plants. Such a food is of energy value in the form of fibre, starch, sugars, proteins and fats, it enriches the diet with vitamins, microelements and biologically active substances. 

A Mystery of the Coloured Mountains

Long time ago I heard about the “colour canyon”, the beauty of which I saw only in photographs. Finally, I got an opportunity to see it with my own eyes. We left Balkanabat with a group of like-minded people and headed to the north along the Oglanly road in the hope that we would arrive at the place before sunset. The route was complicated and the road was long, but the desire to see the canyon, which I believed hid some kind of mystery, was irresistible. For some reason, subconsciously, I expected something fantastic from the trip that I had never seen before, although I often go hiking in the mountains. On the way, we came across the chains of camels gravely wandering along the side of the road. The picturesque hills with flocks of sheep darted past. Here we are! We drove straight to the top of the mountain, from where a breath-taking view of the colourful splendour of Yangi-Kala opened up. Below, at a depth of several hundred metres, we saw an incredibly beautiful heap of bizarre limestone deposits that look like frozen lava. We arrived right before sunset, and we had enough time to adjust the camera to capture the unusual colours of Yangi-Kala in the sunset rays. We walked down and examined the bottom of the canyon. What I saw made me forget about fatigue from the long journey; I wanted to use every minute of my stay in that spectacular place, to contemplate the natural bea

Mountain Ashes in the Kopetdag Mountains

Not many people know that three rare species of wild mountain ash can be found in the nature of the Kopetdag Mountains that often hide in dense thickets of other plants, in shady and watered places. Indeed, it is difficult to believe that the forest moisture-loving beauty with fruit similar in shape and structure to all known small “apples” could survive in our dry arid climate, as it is a relative of the apple and pear, a congener of the rose and wild rose; they all belong to the same family. In this regard, the Kopetdag Mountains can be called a fount of global genetic wealth. The mountain ash is the oldest representative of the plant world on the planet, which existed even in the Tertiary period, the ancestors of which went back to an even earlier, Cretaceous period that took place 80 million years ago. Experts have counted 84 species of mountain ash around the world, plus many of its hybrid forms. Our mountain ashes that grow in the Kopetdag Mountains are very specific, and they did not get lost in this large family arousing interest among scientists for their main feature – high tolerance to high temperature; they exhibit xerophytic nature.

Kyrk­gyz Ma­kes Wis­hes Come True

The na­tu­ral cor­ners of Koy­ten­dag are ama­zing and diver­se. The­re is the hig­hest moun­tain of Turk­me­nis­tan Ay­ry­ba­ba, the Um­bar-De­re gor­ge, the Kyrk­gyz grot­to, the Pla­teau of Di­no­saurs, wa­ter­falls and much mo­re. All the­se are breath-ta­king. The fa­bu­lous­ly beau­ti­ful cor­ners of our count­ry are known out­si­de our count­ry. One of the unique na­tu­ral mo­nu­ments of Koy­ten­dag is the fa­mous Kyrk­gyz (“For­ty girls”) grot­to. It is located on the way to the Kho­ja­pil vil­la­ge. The­re are al­ways ma­ny pilg­rims and tou­rists. Tens of thou­sands of long rib­bons adorn this sacred si­te. Accor­ding to the sto­ries of the el­ders, everyo­ne who visits the place can ma­ke a wish. To do this, you ne­ed to dip the piece in­to clay and throw it to the sto­ne arch. If the rib­bon “sticks” to the arch of the moun­tain, the che­ris­hed de­si­re will cer­tain­ly come true.

Lake Mollakurban — a Gem of the Karakum Desert

Long trips to the depths of the Karakum Desert to conduct biodiversity surveys are the everyday life of ecologists, but each new visit to the vast expanse of the multifaceted sands makes you sure of the beauty of our sunny land. The route of a small expeditionary group of scientists stretched from Turkmen Lake Altyn Asyr. We skirted round its overflows and stopped several times to take pictures of birds, white and black saxaul thickets that formed thick forests in some places and gorgeously fruiting bushes of the sandy acacia. We were lucky to find an interesting and rare plant in the Family Fabaceae in those places. It is called gulan guyruk, and its scientific name is Eremosparton. The plant is endemic to the Karakum Desert; it grows on the dunes and in the territory of the state nature reserves Bereketli Karakum and Repetek. The Artemisia dimoana from the Red Data Book was found in some places.

Medicinal Kaplankyr

The Kaplankyr State Nature Reserve is located in the north-western part of Turkmenistan, at the junction of the northern and southern parts of the Turan lowland within the Ustyurt and Sarykamysh geographical regions. In the south-east, it covers a small area of the sands of the northern Karakum Desert, called Zaunguz, in the west, the Kaplankyr cliffs form a distinct natural border, which in the east was marked by the ancient riverbed of the Uzboy. In the north, the protected area is adjoined by the Ustyurt plateau. The main territory of the Reserve is located on the Kaplankyr plateau, the vegetation of which consists of wormwood and saltwort communities. The species diversity of the flora of the Reserve consists of 400 species of plants from the families Chenopodioideae, Cruciferae, Gramineae, Fabaceae and Compositae. The upper layer is occupied by the black saxaul and kandym, the second one is formed by the wormwood with the participation of semi-shrub salsolas – tetyr and kevreyik, and the third, lowest, tier is composed of grasses – sedges and various ephemerals. In the southern part, one can find white saxaul groupings, characteristic of hilly and ridge-hilly sands. There, the white saxaul is supplemented by the kandym, Salsola richteri, Ephedra strobilacea, sandy acacia and astragalus. One can often find the wild onion, iris, eremurus and an ephemeral plant from the fami

Nature – a source of prosperous and healthy life

The issues of the conservation and rational use of natural resources are one of the urgent challenges of our time. Therefore, among the strategically important 17 Goals adopted by the world community as the Global Agenda for Sustainable Development for the period up to 2030, it is determined the following: to achieve the rational development and efficient use of natural resources, the preservation of marine and terrestrial ecosystems and the rational use of forests; to fight against desertification and land degradation. The environmental factor is present in almost all Sustainable Development Goals as an essential condition for their achievement. Thus, it is emphasised that the stable socioeconomic development of society and the life of people on the planet depend on how natural resources are used and on the attitude of people to nature. The search for a solution to environmental problems has become a unifying principle for the world community to revise social values and to form a global, universal consciousness in which people realise themselves not as kings of nature and conquerors, but as its integral part, and therefore must take care of preserving their natural habitat.