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The purpose of the Eco-Corridors Fund for the Caucasus (ECF) is to secure the ecological stability of the region by linking protected areas and securing sustainable land use through contractual nature conservation. The partnership aims both to conserve the biodiversity of the Caucasus and to increase incomes for the local rural population.
WWF will sign Conservation Agreements with local partners for a period of up to 10 years with clear, achievable objectives and easily measurable performance indicators. Payments under these agreements will ensure that opportunity costs for a biodiversity-focused management of land are covered, and that the sustainable land use practises are applied. In order to provide security and a long term perspective for the beneficiaries, the total funds under the agreement will be deposited in the savings account and released gradually as the required activities are implemented. The beneficiaries will be free to use the proceeds from the Conservation Agreement according to their own needs and priorities.

The pilot phase of the ECF in Azerbaijan is implemented in the Greater Caucasus ecoregional corridor with the funds provided by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through KfW Development Bank. The consortium of GOPA Consultants, DFS and HessenForst are providing consulting services for the implementation.
The facility has been designed to be open to other donors, partners and regions. Set up and management costs are covered by the initial funding. WWF would welcome the participation of other organisations who wish to support the biodiversity and/or economic development objectives of the partnership.

Partnership with the local communities
The aim of ECF is to create a win-win solution in terms of both nature protection and socio-economic development objectives. To achieve this, the scope of the “Conservation Agreements” is being developed in a combination of two interconnected approaches:

1. Conservation planning includes a landscape plan setting conservation objectives and priorities and geographically or thematically limited land use or resource use plans in partner communities, such as forest management, urban development plans. These plans will be discussed in the framework established by the FPA (see below) process in order to secure high level of local participation in the development of the plans in order to get a same understanding of the approach, and to discuss and to agree on the way forward (e.g. to develop and agree the menu of measures and cost norms).

2. Financial Participatory Approach (FPA) conducted in partner communities. Each FPA cycle is adapted to the respective programme phase (data collection & analysis, planning, implementation and monitoring) and serves to mobilize local communities, to integrate their knowledge and experience into the programming of the partnership, to set their own objectives, to develop their ownership. The main tools of FPA are: contests and awards; capitalisation; training, learning and exchange visits; and media involvement.

The rural populations in Greater Caucasus Ecological corridor regions still largely depend on subsistence farming for their survival, leading to high pressure on common natural resources such as forests and pastures. Since the end of Soviet Union, the breakdown of the system of subsidies and collective farming has led to rural decline and widespread rural poverty. Young generations are looking for job opportunities in the urban areas, but the share of population employed in agriculture is still very high compared to developed countries. Modern rural development programmes and farming support systems are now being developed and it is important that nature conservation and environmental concerns are integrated into these policies early on.
Key to the success of the partnership is the ability of local communities to organise themselves, successfully pursue their mission and deliver the results under long term conservation agreements. 


Funding Organization(s) / Donor(s):
Government of Germany, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)  through KfW

Executing Agency: WWF Caucasus Programme Office

Contractor: GOPA-Consultants, Hindenburgrin

Geographical Scope:
Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia
Easter Greater Caucasus Ecological Corridor in Azerbaijan (4.500 km2)

Project duration: 
 2015 - 2020