A group of independent experts, cultural representatives, and environmental activists from various cities in Kazakhstan went on an expedition to the Bozjyra area in Mangystau. At the conclusion of the trip, they made an official statement demanding real measures be taken to protect the unique landmark.
Bozjyra is a unique site in the Mangystau region that has been called a “cosmic place” and one of the most beautiful and unusual locations on the planet. This November, thanks to travelers and environmental activists from Mangystau, the public learned of the threat to Bozjyra’s landscape and ecosystem posed by a “safari hotel” construction project. Environmental activists and experts spoke out about the project’s many violations—the lack of public hearings or an independent environmental impact assessment, and other violations that could cause irreparable damage to Bozjyra.
This news provoked a widespread public reaction among many Kazakhstanis, and not only residents of the Aktau and Mangystau regions.
Experts from the Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan identified six reasons to ban construction at Bozjyra.
The threat to Bozjyra became a rallying cry for experts, environmental activists, cultural figures, and media from various cities in Kazakhstan. In December, a group of independent experts and activists from Aktau, Astana, Almaty, and Atyrau made a joint expedition to the site to study the current situation and develop protection and conservation measures.
During their visit to Bozjyra, the activists discovered a large amount of trash and conducted a cleanup.
An official statement by the expedition participants was published based on the trip’s findings:
“In regard to the threat to the unique site of Bozjyra, particularly the construction plans for a hotel, we, concerned citizens of Kazakhstan, consider it necessary to make a statement to the state authorities, private sector, and civil society of the Republic.
We demand, immediately:
1) to reveal and punish the people and organizations damaging Bozjyra
2) to stop any work and technical intervention in Bozjyra
3) to grant Bozjyra the status of a specifically protected territory of national significance and create the conditions for independent public and scientific control over conservation, protection, and development of the terrain.
We are for well-thought out decisions in the interests of nature, humanity, society, business, and the state, and against the practice of making hasty, unsustainable backroom decisions.
While fully supporting tourism development in Mangystau and other regions of Kazakhstan, we are convinced that it is necessary in the modern world to adhere to the principle of minimal environmental impact. We are for the expansion of opportunities for people living in existing cities and villages, not the exploitation of unique natural landmarks.
Any meddling with the pristine beauty of Bozjyra will inevitably lead to the loss of its uniqueness, cause irreversible damage to its ecosystem and natural and historical value, and destroy its touristic appeal.
Given the local population’s difficult economic situation and the inadequate number of jobs in Mangystau, we believe that only authentic ecotourism would facilitate job creation and small and mid-size business development, and improve the economic and sociocultural atmosphere in the region, as well as preserve and enrich the local culture and traditions and reducing social tensions.
We are against turning Bozjyra into a “paradise for the elite.” We are for maintaining equal access to natural sites for all.
Bozjyra is sacred land and a priceless jewel for any Kazakhstani. Bozjyra is the property of the entire planet. Therefore, we call on our fellow citizens, civil society representatives, and state authorities, as well as international environmental and cultural organizations, to save and protect Bozjyra.
Бозжыраны сақтайық! Сохраним Бозжыру! Save Bozjyra!”
Other materials on this topic:
“Saving Bozjyra” — interview with Azhar Jandosova
“Bozjyra: On the border between the earthly and the otherworldly” — essay by cultural scientist Zira Naurzbayeva on the cultural and sacred meaning of Bozjyra
The Adamdar/CA staff continues to follow the situation surrounding Bozjyra.