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Kazakhstan Designates River Delta as Ninth Ramsar Site

27 January 2012: The Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) has announced that the Government of Kazakhstan has designated, as its ninth Wetland of International Importance, the Ili River Delta and South Lake Balkhash, located in the southern part of the country amid the Sary-Esik-Otrau and Taukum desert areas.

The Ili River Delta is the largest remaining natural delta on an inland lake in Central Asia. It supports a variety of desert flora and fauna species, including a range of threatened species. Balkash Lake and the Ili River Delta are important fishery water bodies and the floodplains in the area provide productive haying lands and good pastures. Threats to the site include a 30 percent reduction in the water inflow due to the construction of the Kapchagai hydroelectric station and the creation of the Akdaly irrigation unit.

Kazakhstan's designation contribute to one of the goals contained in the Ramsar Convention's Strategic Plan for 2009-2015, which is to reach a protected area of 250 million hectares by 2015. [Ramsar Press Release]