During the month of July, we joined Kyrgyz NGO CAMP Alatoo in the village of Arslanbob to learn how they are teaming up with local craftsmen to spread energy awareness across the country.
Arslanbob is famous for its walnut-fruit forests. These ancient forests are the largest natural walnut forests in the world. Under Soviet forestry regulations the walnut forests were protected, and usage of valuable forest products was regulated under Soviet central planning. Today, however, the survival of this unique ecosystem is threatened. The biggest threat is from unrestricted grazing of livestock, which threatens new growth because animals eat young trees and plants before they can develop. Landslides are also an increasingly common threat. They can be caused when animals graze unrestricted in the treeless pastures above the forest, and can destroy massive numbers of trees. There are many efforts to spread awareness about sustainable grazing in the Arslanbob area — check out our video about Sustainable Pasture Management in Kyrgyzstan to learn more.
But right now, back to energy efficiency!
Energy Efficiency in Kyrgyzstan
CAMP Alatoo’s Energy and Energy Efficient Technologies project — together with Sustainable Pasture Management activities — is part of a national climate initiative in Kyrgyzstan with the goal to conserve and protect natural resources in the country’s unique walnut-fruit forest region.
In the project, selected “master” craftsmen undertake extensive training with CAMP Alatoo’s project partner, the German Development Corporation (GIZ), to learn the most up-to-date technologies in the construction of energy-saving stoves. They then adapt their knowledge to their home base in order to utilize materials that are locally available. Now, those craftsmen hold workshops in which they educate other local craftsmen about the construction of energy efficient stoves and the application of thermal insulation technologies in houses. Moreover, NGO CAMP Alatoo and GIZ work together with local residents to promote and assist the institutional development of trained craftsmen by organizing them into trade groups, and they also provide training in marketing to attract more orders for the construction of stoves.
The walnut-fruit forest region of Arslanbob was selected as the pilot area for the project due to its significant natural and environmental value. Bitterly cold winters and poor insulation in homes results in local residents gathering wood from the walnut forests to use for heating and cooking. More efficient stoves and better home insulation reduce the quantity of firewood that local residents gather from the forest, thus reducing the felling of the unique walnut-fruit forests and preserving them for future generations.
Energy efficiency is increasingly urgent in the region, as more locals become aware of the delicate harmony between nature and civilization. Many rely on forest products (like walnuts) to support their livelihoods, but another factor, gaining importance every year, is the budding tourism industry. Already whispers of foreign investment can be heard from the low-lying streets to the high pastures, and the bustling town of Arslanbob hosts a steady stream of backpackers in the summer months. Locals are ready to embrace these changes, seeing tourism as a chance to grow and modernize the local economy, but the attractions here are purely natural — ancient walnut forests, green meadows in the high pastures — and their protection is more important than ever.
View our Flickr album for photos of stove construction and housing insulation in Arslanbob.