Asian Cold Deserts: Unique Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

, ,

  • DATE / TIME:
    2012•10•16    13:15 - 14:45

    The UNU Institute for Sustainability of Peace (UNU-ISP), through this side-event at the 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD-COP11) in Hyderabad, India, and in cooperation with its academic partners, shall reach out to the global community with the outcomes of its interdisciplinary programmes on biodiversity research, management and capacity building in Asian cold deserts.

    Asia encompasses the largest area of cold desert in the world, extending through Afghanistan, China, India, Iran, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russia and Tajikistan.

    This eco-region harbors some unique biodiversity (e.g., snow leopard, Marco Polo sheep, yak and numerous rare and threatened medicinal plants) with ecosystem services critical for sustainable livelihoods of 20–30 million people living within the region, and a much larger population in the catchments of the Indus, Ganges, Brahmputra, Salween, Mekong, Yangtze, Yellow, Tarim, Syr Darya, Amu Darya and many other rivers fed by the region. With global attention to species-rich regions on one hand, and extremely inhospitable climate and poor infrastructure on the other, biodiversity in cold desert has remained only a marginal agenda in biodiversity research, sustainable management and policies.

    The Asian cold desert region is likely to pass through radical changes in both wild and domesticated biodiversity, offering new economic development opportunities (e.g., agricultural extensification and intensification and increased melt-water flows in the highlands under warmer climate) as well as threats to biodiversity (e.g., as a result of overgrazing/overstocking and warming-driven movements of species and biomes) and biodiversity-linked ecosystem services (e.g., reduced base flow in the catchments of rivers fed by the glaciers in the cold desert region, dominance of unpalatable species).


    Hyderabad International Convention Centre
    HITEX 1 – Ground Level
    Side Event Room 2