In one of the remote corners of Kyrgyzstan, a population of the rarest wild progenitor of the modern pear – the Bukhara pear – has been discovered. About a hundred mature trees growing in the Bazar-Korgon district offer hope that these representatives of the unique flora of Central Asia can still be preserved. The last tiny fragmented groves of Bukhara pear are found in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
A few months ago, one of the local villagers informed to the international environmental organization Fauna & Flora International (FFI) that extraordinary fruit grows in the vicinity of his village. In order to identify the plant, FFI, with the support of the Academy of Sciences of Kyrgyzstan, sent an expedition to the village, the results of which confirmed the rare variety of Bukhara pear. The mission was financed by the Global trees campaign.
Fruit and nut forests in Central Asia, including Kyrgyzstan, sometimes serve the main source of income for rural communities.
In addition, wild fruit bushes are an invaluable genetic resource. After all, most of the now widely cultivated varieties of apple and pear are believed to come from wild species found only in these forests.
As domesticated strains around the world are becoming increasingly susceptible to disease and environmental conditions, the protection of wild populations is becoming vital and their role as biological reservoirs for future food security cannot be overstated.
Unfortunately, many of these tree species are threatened with extinction. The reason for this is irrational grazing, excessive collection of firewood and even illegal experiments on grafting domestic and wild species. Therefore, untouched fruit ecosystems survive only where no human has gone before.
In Kyrgyzstan, there are still enough forest areas that have preserved their relatively pristine genetic appearance due to their inaccessibility. FFI has long been cooperating with this Central Asian country. The efforts of ecologists and biologists are focused on the restoration of the areas of wild nut and fruit trees, including Niedzwetzky’s apple and the Bukharan pear. The experts create nurseries, plant out young saplings to replenish the dwindling wild populations, and fence off areas of forest to protect the remaining wild trees in natural conditions – in short, do everything to ensure that ancestors of modern flora with an illustrious past still have bright future for the benefit of mankind and nature.