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The Danger of Renting National Parks

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In April 2011, head of the Kazakhstani Department of Regulation and Control of Forestry and Protected Areas Kairat Ustemirov announced that the government would lease national parklands for 49 years, primarily for the development of eco-tourism and related infrastructural needs. No doubt eager businessmen looking to capitalize on Kazakhstan’s mountainous regions and a government in times of global economic hardship welcome developments of this ilk, and indeed Mr. Ustemirov stated that a number of projects already were underway. However, how the leasing of these lands will impact Kazakhs today and in future decades constitutes a completely different matter. While it is uncertain that the people would even see the revenue from leased lands, it is even more uncertain what unintended ramifications the populace and local eco-systems would encounter as a result of development. Moreover, these concerns say nothing about the tremendous threat that accompanies any sale of public land to the privatized, for-profit sector—the threat against the social fabric.

PROJECTS / SPECIALLY PROTECTED NATURAL TERRITORIES / The Danger of Renting National Parks. Sierra Perez-Sparks (2011)