Integrated biodiversity management, South Caucasus
Title: Integrated Biodiversity Management, South Caucasus
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), co-funded by Austrian Development Cooperation
Country: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Territorial Administration and Emergency Situations (Armenia); Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources (Azerbaijan); Ministry of Environment Protection (Georgia)
Overall term: 2015 to 2019
The biodiversity of the South Caucasus is of global importance. However, the diversity of species and the proper functioning of ecosystems are under threat. There is considerable pressure from the exploitation of natural resources by the local population, private industry and governments.
National biodiversity strategies and action plans exist, as do the first sector strategies for managing biodiversity and ecosystem services. As yet, however, these are insufficient to meet the challenges of the overlapping interests of the different sectors (forestry, livestock and arable farming, nature conservation and tourism). There is too little coordination between the various state and non-state actors, and population groups such as shepherds and farmers. In addition, there is not enough reliable data available on the different sectors to support planning and decision-making processes.
The management of biodiversity and ecosystem services, coordinated across various sectors, has improved through the use of solid data.
Strategies and regulations are being drawn up or reviewed to improve the situation for managing biodiversity and ecosystem services. This process draws on the experiences gained in pilot measures at district, municipal and local levels, in which relevant actors learn new approaches to manage biodiversity and ecosystem services sustainably. These approaches should coordinate the varying interests and take into consideration conditions at the overarching landscape level.
The pilot measures in Armenia are being carried out in the regions of Aragatsotn, Shirak and Sisian, and in a number of state forest enterprises in the country. Together, they cover roughly a quarter of the country's land area. The measures in Azerbaijan take place in Ismayilli and Shamekhe, on the equivalent of five per cent of the total land area; and in Georgia they are run in Kakheti, on approximately 15 per cent of the land area. A number of more specific pilot measures to combat and avoid soil erosion are being conducted by a consortium comprised of ECO Consult, E.C.O. and AHT.
At the national level, the lessons learned are reviewed and then adapted for replication. Efforts are made at all levels to coordinate the cooperation between relevant institutions.
By strengthening training establishments and environmental education centres, the programme is working to improve the level of awareness among the general public regarding the importance of biodiversity and ecosystem services. It also supports professional exchanges between the countries in the region.
Results achieved so far
With the support of two earlier projects, sector policies, strategies and laws have been developed, based on European standards and norms. Environmental education, formerly aimed just at schools, is increasingly reaching the population as a whole. A number of strategies have already been successfully implemented for the sustainable management of forests, for climate-adapted agriculture and for improved pasture management.