10 July 2008
Saryarka - Steppe and Lakes of Northern Kazakhstan is the first Natural World Heritage Site of Central Asia to have been inscribed on the World Heritage List. The decision was taken by the World Heritage Committee in Quebec, on 7 July 2008Saryarka comprises two protected areas: Naurzum State Nature Reserve and Korgalzhyn State Nature Reserve totalling 450,344 ha.
It features wetlands of outstanding importance for migratory water birds, including globally threatened species, among them the extremely rare Siberian white crane, the Dalmatian pelican, Pallasís fish eagle, to name but a few. These wetlands are key stopover points and crossroads on the Central Asian flyway of birds from Africa, Europe and South Asia to their breeding places in Western and Eastern Siberia.
The 200,000 ha Central Asian steppe areas included in the property provide a valuable refuge for over half the species of the regionís steppe flora, a number of threatened bird species and the critically endangered Saiga antelope, formerly an abundant species much reduced by poaching.
The property includes two groups of fresh and salt water lakes situated on a watershed between rivers flowing north to the Arctic and south into the Aral-Irtysh basin.
The World Heritage Committee, responsible for the implementation of the 1972 Convention, is comprised of representatives of 21 countries, elected by the States Parties for up to six years. Each year, the Committee adds new sites to the List.