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The Southern Caucasus, a global biodiversity hotspot, is covered by a freshwater network of more than 43,000 rivers and 7 Ramsar Sites. However, unsustainable development of dams (hydropower, water security, irrigation) is disrupting environmental flows at river-basin-scale (low/high flows, floods). This negatively impacts on habitat connectivity and conditions, species interactions, water quality. As knock-on effects biodiversity and ecosystem services (such as community fisheries, drinking water supply) degrade. While renewable hydropower is pivotal for mitigating climate change, the sustainability of all dams combined at river-basin-scale has not been assessed yet and is at question. Already degraded environmental flows are further impacted by climate change, e.g. changing precipitation patterns, which may jeopardize formerly economically viable dams. The Caucasus Ecoregion Conservation Plan (ECP) therefore calls for dam development guidelines by 2015 to minimize their negative impacts.
This project is designed as a pilot phase for an initiative on sustainable dam development in the Caucasus Ecoregion. The pilot phase mobilizes key stakeholders and secures their support, as a foundation for the overall initiative.
Stakeholders acknowledge the need to promote best practices for dams to safeguard biodiversity and ecosystem services for local people at river-basin-scale, and have established a regional initiative on sustainable dam development.
RESULT 1: Government/Stakeholders Engagement Secured
RESULT 2: Biodiversity/Ecosystem Services of Freshwater Networks Recognized by Stakeholders
RESULT 3: Sustainable Dams Assessment and Planning Methodology Agreed