Bright Ideas: Energy Efficient Homes in Kyrgyzstan

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. About Arslanbob 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…continue reading →

Conflict Management over Natural Resources in Kyrgyzstan

Many conflicts in Kyrgyzstan occur over natural resources. People in rural communities in Kyrgyzstan depend directly on natural resources like pastures, water, and wood to sustain their livelihoods. Pastures are particularly important: 94% of Kyrgyzstan’s territory is covered by mountains, and 80% of the available agricultural land is classified as pastures. Livestock and livestock breeding is a strong component of the rural economy and tensions over grazing rights and competition to use and manage natural resources is often a source of conflict both between neighbors and across international borders. We accompanied NGO CAMP Alatoo to Ak-Talaa…continue reading →

Talking “Citizen Science” in Kyrgyz Schools

Stay in Kyrgyzstan long enough and you'll pick up at least one phrase: Кош келиниздер! This phrase means “welcome” in Kyrgyz. It can be heard at the start of every public event, and seen at the entrance of every school across the country. The Kyrgyz Mountains Environmental Education and Citizen Science project—also known as KMEECS—is a project with which I (Stephanie) am personally involved in the design, implementation, and monitoring. I’m an intern at CAMP Alatoo in projects on climate change adaptation and conflict management over natural resources, and KMEECS is one of CAMP Alatoo’s climate change adaptation…continue reading →

Sustainable Pasture Management in Kyrgyzstan

During the months of June and July, we packed our backpacks, grabbed our sleeping bags, and headed for the pastures—the high mountain pastures of Arslanbob! We spent much of the summer traveling around Kyrgyzstan with the environmental NGO CAMP Alatoo to grab footage and do interviews (check out our previous post for more info). We’re making seven informational videos about CAMP Alatoo’s key activity areas, and Sustainable Pasture Management was our first one. We were in good company, joined by CAMP Alatoo’s Pasture Specialist Zhyrgal Kozhomberdiev and other pasture specialists and employees of the State…continue reading →

Meet CAMP Alatoo

Anyone who’s ever been to Kyrgyzstan—or read anything about Kyrgyzstan, for that matter—is aware of the country’s beautiful nature. Rolling green meadows, alpine lakes, glaciers, and most famously, snowcapped mountains, lend it the appropriate nickname as The Land at the Foot of the Sun (according to at least one souvenir-shop brochure). Since our arrival in Kyrgyzstan ten months ago, we've had the opportunity to collaborate with a number of organizations. One of those is CAMP Alatoo, a non-profit and non-governmental organization with the goal of improving people's livelihoods in the mountain regions of…continue reading →

Kyrgyzstan’s Jailoo Kindergartens

Anyone who's ever experienced Kyrgyzstan's tourism industry knows that the country isn't shy about its nomadic heritage. The cross-hatch of a yurt is even the focal point of the country's bright flag, and the traditional cuisine of fatty meat and mare's milk is a constant reminder that vegetables just aren't practical for the wandering life. While true nomadism doesn't really exist anymore in the region, there are still hundreds of Kyrgyz families who carry the tradition as far as practically possible. Starting in May, hundreds (or maybe thousands) of families pull up their roots…continue reading →
Cycling the Balkans: Montenegro & Albania

Cycling the Balkans: Montenegro & Albania

Over the summer we rented bikes in Montenegro, packed up two panniers each and hit the road, cycling from Podgorica to Plav and Gusinje, then to Koplik (Albania), Shkodra, eventually to Tirana, and finally back up along the Albanian coast to where we first started. Watch the journey unfold in our five-part video series below: Part One: Podgorica to Gusinje Part One covers our trip from Podgorica to Plav, then to nearby Gusinje. We stopped in Plav and talked to Alsen Radončić, volunteer at National Park Prokletije, about tourism and investment in his part of…continue reading →

Walking Almaty: Marveling at the Mundane

The latest Pedaling Pictures production is a profile of Dennis Keen, founder of Walking Almaty. We had the good fortune of being able to spend a long afternoon in Almaty with Dennis earlier this summer, where he took us on a tour of some of his favorite neighborhoods, pigeon markets, drainpipes, rail girders, cornices, window frames, etc. For the uninitiated, Walking Almaty is essentially a well-organized collection of overlooked items that make up everyday street scenes in Almaty. Dennis likes to walk, and he has a keen (that's right) eye for noticing the unnoticed, and finding patterns in things…continue reading →

Bishkek Eco Festival 2015

In Spring of 2015, the Roza Otunbayeva Initiative (and many partners) hosted an "Eco Festival" in central Bishkek. Recent years have brought political stability and economic growth to Kyrgyzstan, but progress along these lines doesn't necessarily equate environmental stewardship. According to Zhanyl Avaskanovna of local public foundation CAMP Alatoo, increasing car ownership just over the past few years has led to a very perceptible drop in air quality in Bishkek. While Kyrgyz citizens are more economically empowered than probably ever before, notions of environmental conservation and sustainable living have moved to the background. Surrounding green talks, master classes, forums, exhibitions, and a…continue reading →