Capacity development for the establishment of a UNESCO biosphere reserve in Kakheti

So far there is no biosphere reserve in Georgia. However, the rich natural and cultural heritage as well as preserved traditional land use forms gives a good base for establishing biosphere reserves. The eastern Georgian province of Kakheti, in particular, contains several protected areas and is most relevant for the still surviving mobile pastoralism with sheep. A biosphere reserve could help to maintain and reconcile both. With the project of the International Climate Initiative "Biosphere Reserves as model regions for climate protection and adaptation - capacity development for the establishment of a UNESCO biosphere reserve" the Michael Succow Foundation contributes to its preparation.


Biosphere reserves (within the framework of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Program, MaB) support a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable regional development. They are also a promising tool to encounter climate change by developing and testing climate protection and adaptation measures and thus strengthening the resilience of climate vulnerable regions such as Eastern Georgia. Within the framework of the completed project "Study on the potential and feasibility of the expulsion of biosphere reserves in Georgia", Kakheti was selected by a national working group for a feasibility study on the development of a biosphere reserve.


The feasibility study of the Succow Foundation and the Georgian NGO NACRES, in cooperation with the Georgian Ministry for Environment and Natural Resources, has identified numerous positive preconditions for establishing a biosphere reserve in Kakheti. Some UNESCO criteria are already fulfilled. Together with stakeholders and decision makers at regional and national level several scenarios for such a biosphere reserve were drafted and discussed. The scenario covering the complex system of migratory pasture areas in Tusheti and Vashlovani including a connecting corridor was was identified as the long-term objective for the biosphere reserve. Like this it could most effectively support the traditional land use of mobile sheep husbandry (transhumance) in Kakheti and help solve various problems connected to it.


The Georgian Ministry of Environment wants to push forward the development of a biosphere reserve in Kakheti on the basis of the feasibility study. With this new project, the Michael Succow Foundation will provide support and assistance also in 2017. The understanding of the UNESCO BR concept is to be strengthened and the capacities of the partners and stakeholders to implement a BR development process and related projects need further development. Both will be addressed at the national and local level.


Study trips to existing biosphere reserves in Europe are planned, also networking activities with biosphere reserves and actors of the MaB program. The knowledge and the discussion on specific topics (e.g. management and governance, cooperation mechanisms, zonation) relevant for the establishment and nomination of a biosphere reserve should be strengthened with workshops and studies. All this should help to establish a common and clear vision and objective for the possible biosphere reserve. This will serve to adopt a plan for the implementation phase of the biosphere reserve, which is being developed jointly with all stakeholders.

The NGO REC Caucasus (Regional Environmental Centre) is implementing project partner in Georgia.The project is financed as part of the program “Capacity development for climate policy in the Western Balkans, Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Phase II” of the International Climate Initiative of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH (German Society for International Co-operation).



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Sophie Hirschelmann, email: sophie.hirschelmann(at)