Kazakhstan has developed a system of specially protected natural areas (SPNA) which encompasses the most important habitats. The system includes 117 protected areas covering 24.5 million hectares (8.9 % of the country’s area), including thirteen state national nature parks. They are designed to preserve and restore the unique natural areas that have a special ecological, scientific, cultural and recreational value. Six national nature parks are located within insular low-hummocky tracts of the steppe zone; one is located in the semi-desert zone; and the rest in the desert area in the medium and highland areas with pronounced altitudinal zoning. National nature parks thus cover a wide range of landscapes. 19 of the 25 are classified as areas of national importance. This article analyzes the potential possessed by the national nature parks of Kazakhstan to contribute to the development of ecological tourism. It is shown that the diversity of the national nature parks in terms of their landscape and biology is associated with the particular nature of the natural and climatic conditions found in the zones of high altitude. Demographic analysis shows that there is potential for growth in terms of the economically active population. Within or in close proximity to national nature parks, the number of those who are economically active stands at 1021,0 thousand at present; but less than five percent of this number take part in the development of ecological tourism. 150 existing ecological routes are the main way in which tourists become familiar with the typical and rare landscapes, natural features and picturesque landscapes of untouched nature within the national nature parks.


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