On April 30th, the Vice-President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and IDEA founder Leyla Aliyeva visited Gizilaghaj National Park.
Becoming acquainted with the park's fauna and flora, Ms. Leyla and Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources Mukhtar Babayev discussed prospects for future development of protected natural areas, including coastline and marine reserves.
During the trip, Ms. Leyla released baby fish into the gulf of Gizilaghaj and planted Eldar pine trees as a symbol of support to expand and protect the forest areas of the country.
Established on 26 September 2018, Gizilaghaj National Park, which encompasses Gizilaghaj State Nature Reserve and the Greater Gizilaghaj bay, is considered as the first Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the entire Caspian Sea. Protection of the park’s marine area is crucially important for the existence of many critically endangered fish in the wild.
In November 2019, the national park’s marine area has been recognized as a Hope Spot, upon the nomination submitted by IDEA and Blue Marine Foundation. Hope Spots are ecologically unique areas of the ocean designated for protection under a global conservation campaign Mission Blue. These special sites are chosen for their contributions to biodiversity and the carbon sink, and carry the goal of raising global support for marine protected areas.
In recent decades, natural populations of fish species have come to the brink of extinction as a result of human activities.
In this regard, under the guidance of Ms. Leyla Aliyeva, a number of crucial initiatives are being implemented in order to protect and restore the aquatic fauna of Azerbaijan and the Caucasus region.
One of such initiatives is the "Abundant Basins" project, conducted by IDEA and the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, launched in May of last year. The project aims to replenish natural fish populations in rivers and lakes of the country through releasing fingerlings of various fish species grown by public and private fish farms into the natural environment, as well as to reduce water pollution and promote sustainable fishing to ultimately restore the marine environment of the Caspian.