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BALTRAK – Balancing trade-offs between agriculture and biodiversity in the steppes of Kazakhstan

Research domain:
Natural resource use

Project duration:
31.12.2014 - 30.12.2017

The Volkswagen Foundation funds this 3-year-project that will analyze agricultural and restoration potentials on abandoned arable land, the distribution of key steppe grassland biodiversity (small mammals, birds and plants), and biodiversity responses to changing agricultural use and wildfires in Kazakhstan. The Kazakh steppes have huge, currently unused agricultural potentials that could make an important contribution to world nutrition. Simultaneously, the expansion of agriculture competes with Kazakhstan’s renaturation of unique steppe ecosystems. Developing strategies to bring agriculture and biodiversity protection in line is the declared goal of the BALTRAK project (Balancing trade-offs between agriculture and biodiversity in the steppes of Kazakhstan).

The interdisciplinary research project aims to evaluate the agricultural potential and renaturation of abandoned farmland. For this purpose, the connection between land use, steppe fire and biodiversity shall be analyzed. Ultimately, the researchers aim to develop strategies to reconcile agriculture and biodiversity, and contribute to the development of protected areas in Central Asia.


  • Coordination: University of Münster, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research Group, Germany Website
  • Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity in Kazakhstan (ACBK), Kazakhstan Website
  • Humboldt-Universität Berlin, Biogeography and Conservation Biology Lab, Germany Website
  • Karaganda State University, Kazakhstan Website
  • Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO), Germany