The effect of excluding grazing in the walnut forests, Kyrgyzstan

Sheltering in the south-western Tian Shan mountains exist a unique yet threatened forest found nowhere else on Earth. These forests are the walnut-fruit forests of Kyrgyzstan. Last month I attended an international conference concerning the sustainable management of the forests (see my travel photos). The walnut-fruit forests are considered aContinue Reading

I undertook an expedition to Kyrgyzstan in 1997 to collect walnut seeds from the wild walnut-fruit forests. Following our last day collecting walnut seeds in the mountains near the spectacular Sary Chalek lake (see post) we travelled back to the capital Bishkek via a three hour jeep journey, first throughContinue Reading

The rushing of the mountain river, whose banks we cooked on last night, soothed me to sleep. I woke up to another beautiful sunny day; the sun striking the steep mountainside beyond the river. Its glowing red rock is covered here and there in junipers, walnuts and scrub. Our ‘guesthouse’ is bizarre. It is quite nicely built but had no glass in its windows and has no running water …Continue Reading

So, we left Gava – all six of us in the ancient Russian jeep: Mamajan and his son, Askar, Sergei, Peter and me. After a couple of stops for food, including 50 minutes spent negotiating the price for some meat, it took eight hours to reach Sary-Chelek, the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.Continue Reading

Just as we thought things were going very well – last night we were told that our hosts needed to make a phone call. Ordinarily this would not be a major event but here at Gava, this means a round trip to the nearest phone that will take at least six hours! Continue Reading

Rest day! I feel much better, especially after a lie-in; the clocks went back an hour. Actually, they went back yesterday but our hosts decided to tell us today! At last we have had some time to wash our clothes (10 days into the expedition), and thanks to the sunny weather they were dry by evening. The family have been winnowing sunflower seeds and bagging them under the shade of the apple orchard.Continue Reading

We’ve been here one week today but time seems immeasurable: it feels like a lifetime ago that my companion, Peter Savill, and I left London Heathrow. We had another good day collecting walnuts; this time in a new area further East. Mid-morning, we’d stopped in a remote area for our usual snack of chai and lepyoshkas …Continue Reading

Today we collected seeds from a valley near Gava village. Mamajan headed off to Jalal-Abad seeking permission to collect seeds from this area. After starting promptly at 0900 and having a productive morning, we unfortunately had to walk back to the farmstead for lunch; a round trip of at least 2.5 hours. I have found …Continue Reading

We spent until 1200 packing up and getting ready to leave Bishkek for our flight to Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s second city. After many complicated discussions we (my companion Peter, our student translator Askar, and me) finally got underway to Manas airport via a taxi. We arrived early with four hours to spare. The only interesting thing to happen was the sudden fall …Continue Reading

In 1997 I undertook an expedition to Kyrgyzstan with friend and colleague Peter Savill, to collect walnut seeds from the naturally occurring walnut-fruit forests. Stranded in the capital city Bishkek for three days, following the loss of our luggage by the airline somewhere en route in Kazakstan, a frustrating timeContinue Reading