Uzbekistan names its fourth Wetland of International Importance

06 October 2023

Uzbekistan has designated Sudochye lake system as a Wetland of International Importance. This “Ramsar Site” (no.2522 on the List of Wetlands of International Importance) was once a bay of the Aral Sea, which was the fourth-largest lake in the world around 1960. It became separate as the Sea’s water level decreased; the water level of the Site is maintained by the Amudarya River and irrigation canals. 

The biodiversity is similar to that of the southern part of the Aral Sea and features dense reedbeds, shrubs, salt marshes and saxaul (Haloxylon ammodendron) plantations. Some nationally threatened animals are found, such as the Asiatic caracal (Caracal caracal schmitzi), goitered gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa) and bulatmai barbel (Luciobarbus capito). 

The Site is an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) and serves as a stopover and breeding area for birds migrating along the Central Asian flyway. The numbers of greylag goose (Anser anser), mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) and mute swan (Cygnus olor) exceed 1% of their biogeographical populations. 

National and international tourists visit to explore the Site’s historical connection to the Aral Sea and observe the remnants of the settlement of Urga. Local communities use it for fishing and harvest reeds for livestock fodder and building materials. Extreme weather conditions such as drought are among the major threats facing the Site.