Shahzoda Alikhanova, DPhil in the Department of Biology, presented her research on the Aral Sea, which is an exemplary dryland ecosystem. Once among the world's largest inland bodies of water, the Aral Sea faced drastic shrinkage due to unsustainable water management practices, resulting in ecological devastation and socio-economic challenges.
Shahzoda’s research focuses on nature-based solutions (NbS) as a means to mitigate the multidimensional impacts of the Aral Sea desiccation on both people and the environment. The study not only concentrates on the local context but also seeks broader implications for NbS in dryland ecosystems globally, aiming to inform policies and practices that contribute to the restoration and resilience of ecosystems impacted by similar environmental crises. In the course of her research, Shahzoda employs diverse research methods, including earth observation techniques, ecological and social surveys, as well as statistical modeling approaches.
One of the highlights of the research is aimed at evaluating large-scale afforestation activities on the dried-up bottom of the Aral Sea through the prism of NbS, showcasing its ability to combat desertification and contribute to carbon sequestration.