Georgia

Feasibility assessment for a Colchis World Heritage site

The Michael Succow foundation conducts a feasibility assessment for the Colchic Forests and Wetlands following the methodological approach that has already been used for the Central Caucasus region to increase awareness in Georgia and particularly around the prospective site on the World Heritage Convention and the advantages of a World Heritage Site for the region. The overarching goal is to foster the protection of Colchic protected areas, inter alia through an increased international recognition as Colchis World Heritage site.

 

The Caucasus Ecoregion covers a total area of 580,000 km2 and is one of the most biologically rich regions on Earth. It is one of 34 „biodiversity hotspots“ (Caucasus Global Biodiversity Hotspot) identified 2007 by Conservation International as being the richest and at the same time most threatened reservoirs of plant and animal life on Earth. The Colchic Forests and Wetlands are humid pleiocene/pleistocene refuge areas and among the ecosystem complexes with the longest uninterrupted existence in temperate Eurasia. Together with the Hyrcanic refugia in Azerbaijan and Iran, these Forests and Wetlands are considered a centre of plant endemism in the Caucasus (Ecoregional Conservation Plan for the Caucasus, 2012), preserving plant associations from the Tertiary period. In the last ten years, major efforts have been undertaken to preserve the unique biodiversity “hot-spots” in Georgia. Nevertheless, despite the substantial efforts in biodiversity conservation in the country, Georgia is still facing major challenges. Currently, in the South Caucasus only about 14% of forests are preserved in protected areas.

 

Since 1992 Georgia has been a Party to the World Heritage Convention. The Georgian authorities have acknowledged the importance of supporting a natural or mixed nomination, which is reflected in national legislation and regional plans. However, despite its crucial biodiversity value the rich natural ecosystems and the inclusion of four natural and mixed sites in Georgia’s Tentative List, until now no natural or mixed sites have been nominated as potential UNESCO World Heritage site.

 

This project will be implemented by the Michael Succow Foundation in cooperation with WWF Caucasus and is funded by the German Federal Environment Ministry’s Advisory Assistance Programme (AAP) for environmental protection in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia and other countries neighbouring the European Union. It is/was supervised by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) and the German Environment Agency (UBA).

 

 

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Project coordination: Sophie Hirschelmann, email: sophie.hirschelmann(at)succow-stiftung.de