Enhancing the Integrity of the East Lesser Caucasus Corridor through the Establishment of Gnishik Community Managed Protected Area (Armenia)

Project Description:
Armenia’s biodiversity is threatened by overexploitation of biodiversity, unregulated tourism activity, habitat loss and climate change. The cumulative impacts include the accelerated loss of vulnerable habitats and associated species and the growing insecurity of ecosystem services. Hence, opportunities for communities to realize the potential social and economic benefits accruing from biodiversity are lost.

The project was aimed at integration and expansion of ecological corridors, as well as protection of globally threatened species through establishment of Gnishik community-managed protected area (PA) in Southern Armenia.

The main activities of the project were related to participatory planning of the PA, enforcement of protection regime, development of tourism related infrastructure, and last but not least creation of alternative livelihood opportunities for communities located in the support zone of the Gnishik PA.

  1. Contribution to establishment of Gnishik PA
  2. Promotion of nature-based tourism development in the area
  3. Further development of a national protected area system
  4. Protection of under-represented ecosystems and associated species
  5. Improvement of management of productive landscapes while helping to promote connectivity and alleviate poverty
  6. Establishment of a model for community-managed PA
Project Outcomes:
Project efforts resulted in the improved  national protected area system with enhanced  conservation of ecosystems under-represented in the National PA network and associated species. The project investment in the community areas contributed to improvement of the management of productive landscapes while helping to promote connectivity and alleviate poverty.
The project resulted in:
  1. Establishment of Gnishik Protected Landscape (PL) with the territory of 6,010.74 ha, which is the  first community managed PA in Armenia 
  2. Protection of over 900 species of plants and about 525 species of animals, of which 55 species of plants and 80 species of animals are listed in the Red Book of Armenia and registered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 
  3. Development of the Management Plan for Gnishik PL 
  4. Development of the Support Zone Economic Development Plan for the communities adjacent to the Gnishik PL 
  5. Development of the Range Management Plan for Gnishik PL 
  6. Establishment of Gnishik Intercommunity Environmental Fund as a managing body for Gnishik PL 
  7. Establishment of a furnished and equipped Visitor Center and an office for Gnishik PL 
  8. Recruitment of Gnishik PL personnel including a tourist information officer and trained rangers, as well as a patrol team set in place, equipped with an off-road vehicle and field equipment 
  9. Establishment of a Guest House for Gnishik PL 
  10. Provision of small-scale alternative livelihood opportunities for more than 80 households in the communities of support zone of Gnishik PL: donation of 50 beehives with bee families; establishment of 3 ha of apple and walnut orchards in Khachik community; establishment of 3.25 ha of apple orchards in Mozrov and Gnishik communities; establishment of 3.4 ha of vineyards in Areni community 
  11. Establishment of protection infrastructure of Gnishik PL with provision of a ranger shelter, roadblocks and preventive signs 
  12. Establishment of visitor infrastructure, including several newly developed and blazed tourist trails, installed information signs, published information materials and trail map
Funding Organization / Donor:
Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF)

Implementing Organization:

Project Implementation Location:
Vayots Dzor Province, Republic of Armenia

Project Duration:
2011 – 2014


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