The Caucasus Ecoregion

The Caucasus Ecoregion is one of the most biologically rich and culturally diverse regions on Earth. Project countries include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia and Turkey. PA4LP is assisting them in meeting CBD targets, and helping them to keep that biodiversity and cultural richness intact.
With the support of the Caucasus Biodiversity Council, governments have made substantial progress in meeting CBD protected areas (PAs) targets. Here are some highlights:

Strong Relationships Built - National Coordination Committees Established.
  • Governments, scientists and NGOs are now working closely together within National Coordination Committees in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey in implementing the CBD.Coordination between stakeholders has been greatly improved.
  • In the North Caucasus, a regional committee is the only mechanism to bring together environment experts across the regions of Russia.

Enhanced Protection - New PAs and Transboundary Cooperation.
  • There are now up to 1163 PA sites in the Caucasus region, covering 12.7 percent of its area (over one million ha protected since 2004).
  • A PA gap analysis of Turkey is nearing completion, and will identify areas in the country in need of PA protection.
  • In Azerbaijan alone, the area under protection has doubled since 2000.
  • In Armenia, 230 new Natural Monuments were approved by the Government in 2009.
  • Russia currently has more than 12,000 national, regional and local PAs that cover nearly 200 million hectares or 11.9 percent of the country's territory. In 2010, the PA system of the North Caucasus was extended by more than 38,000 ha.
  • Key transboundary priority conservation areas were identified and cooperation has been initiated between Armenia-Georgia and Georgia-Turkey.

Planning for the Future - First National Action Plans.
  • National Action Plans, which address sustainable financing, capacity building, legal and institutional gaps and barriers, have been developed with all relevant stakeholders, including local communities. National Action Plans are based on 17 assessments carried out across the five countries.

Human Capacity Enhanced.
  • Development of National Action Plans engaged many government officials and PAs managers, allowing them to be involved in the evaluation and planning processes for the first time.
  • A Georgia-Turkey exchange programme allowed a transfer of experience and management practices between protected area professionals.

Management Effectiveness Assessed and Tracked.
  • All countries in the Caucuses were assessed for PAs management effectiveness using RAPPAM methodology. About 80% of all PAs were assessed, exceeding the average rate for European countries.
  • The Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (METT) was selected for use in all Turkey's PAs over a two year period. PA4LP organized a workshop in Antalya in December 2010 to train PA managers in the use of METT.

Data on Biodiversity Monitored.
  • Key data on biodiversity, PAs management and monitoring of CBD implementation at regional level was collected and made available by the Caucasus Biodiversity Monitoring Network.

Ensured Sustainable Financing for PAs.
  • The Caucasus Nature Fund was established as the first regional level sustainable financing mechanism. It provides long-term co-financing for protected areas in the Southern Caucasus countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

Next Steps for PA4LP in the Caucasus
  • Identification and protection of key ecosystem services (provision of water, carbon storage) especially those that will assist societies in adapting to climate change.
  • Promotion to government and private sector of the values and benefits of biodiversity and ecosystem services and natural capital accounting.
  • Development of mechanisms to ensure payment for ecosystem services (PES) based on economic valuation studies of protected areas.
  • Maintenance of multi-stakeholder coordination mechanisms, such as national coordination committees and the regional Caucasus Biodiversity Council, to support CBD implementation, monitoring and exchange of experience across the region.
 / ©: WWF-Russia / Sergey Trepet
Russian Caucasus
© WWF-Russia / Sergey Trepet

Milestones

December 2011: Model Ecological Network/Corridor Planning in the transboundary West Lesser Caucasus Corridor between Georgia and Turkey is finalized. 

July 2011: Preparation work for nomination of Clochic Forests to the UNESCO World Natural Heritage List is initiated. 

June 2011: Establishment activities for transboundary National Park Machakhela is initiated. 

March 2011: Caucasus Ecoregional Conservation Plan is adopted at the 11th Caucasus Biodiversity Council Meeting. 

October 2010: A regional review of implementation of CBD targets on PAs is launched at CBD COP10 in Nagoya, Japan. 

June 2010: A first version of the Caucasus Biodiversity Monitoring Network is operational online. 

May 2010: Georgia conducts an inventory of its Natural Monuments

December 2009: Financial needs assessments are finalized for Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey with follow up sustainable financing plans for Armenia and Azerbaijan. 

December 2009: Turkey complets its RAPPAMand capacity development needs assessments. 

January 2009: Capacity needs assessment and capacity development action plans are completed for Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. 
 
December 2008: National Coordination Committees are officially established in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia and Turkey. 

June 2007: The Caucasus Biodiversity Council holds its first meeting as steering committee for the project. 
 / ©: Sedat Kalem - WWF Turkey
Sedat Kalem, Conservation Director WWF Turkey
© Sedat Kalem - WWF Turkey
Read what WWF-Turkey Conservation Director Sedat Kalem says about the collaboration with UNDP in “Enhancing Forest Protected Areas Management System in Turkey” project in the UNDP Turkey Newsletter (January 2011).

Testimonial

Watch Armen Martirosyan, Environmental Governance Portfolio Manager for UNDP Armenia on the collaboration between UNDP & WWF:

Increasing attention of the government towards PA networks and biodiversity conservation is in many ways due to the active stand of WWF in Armenia.

Armen Martirosyan, UNDP

Contacts: Caucasus

 / ©: Nugzar Zazanashvili
Nugzar Zazanashvili
© Nugzar Zazanashvili
Nugzar Zazanashvili, Conservation Director, WWF Caucasus
nzazanashvili@wwfcaucasus.ge

Maka Bitsadze, Regional Project Coordinator, WWF Caucasus
mbitsadze@wwfcaucasus.ge
  •  / ©: Hartmut Jungius/WWF-Canon
    “It is very important to share experiences for our common purpose which is to ensure knowledge is spread and benefits our mutual conservation goals.”


    Armen Martirosyan, Envrionmental Governance Portfolio Manager, UNDP Armenia
     
  • Key Governmental Institutions, Donors & Partners

    • The Ministry of Nature Protection of Armenia
    • The Ministry of Ecology & Natural Resources of Azerbaijan
    • The Ministry of Environment Protection & Natural Resources of Georgia
    • The Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation
    • Global Environmental Facility (GEF)
    • The World Bank (WB)
    • United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
    • KfW Entwicklungsbank (KfW)
    • German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation & Development (BMZ)
    • German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)
    • German Federal Ministry of the Envrionment (BMU)
    • German Society for Technical Cooperation (GTZ)
    • Norwegian Ministry of Foregin Affairs
    • MAVA Fondation pour la Nature
    • Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund
    • Conservation International (CI)
    • The John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
    • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
    • International Technical Assistance Program of the United States Department of Interior (USDOI-ITAP)
    • Transboundary Joint Secretariat for the Southern Caucasus (TJS)
    • Michael Succow Foundation for the Protection of Nature
    • Caucasus Protected Areas Fund (CPAF)

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