Posted on 04 July 2022
Expansion of Kolkheti National Park covers critical sturgeon habitat
WWF is delighted that the government of Georgia has officially expanded the Kolkheti National Park.
The newly protected areas add just over 670 hectares to the park's existing 45,000 hectares but they run 7km upstream from the estuary of the Rioni River, incorporating vitally important habitats for critically endangered sturgeon species,
The Rioni is the only river in the eastern part of the Black Sea where these ancient species can still migrate to spawn.
Historically six species of sturgeon have been widespread in Georgia but their range has decreased as the threats to the species have increased. All species in the Rioni are now threatened with extinction.
Legal protection of these key habitats is a significant step forward for sturgeon conservation in Georgia, especially as some young Ship sturgeon were recently found in the river, raising hopes that the species was still breeding in the wild.
It is also another major boost to WWF's global Sturgeon initiative
, which is working with governments and partners to revive sturgeon populations across the world.
The announcement of the new protected areas has also heightened expectations that another part of the Rioni will be protected later this year, which would safeguard the river’s most important sturgeon spawning grounds.