Integrated Biodiversity Management in the South Caucasus

Project description

Title: Integrated Biodiversity Management, South Caucasus (IBiS)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure of Armenia, Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan, Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia
Overall term: 2015 to 2019

Context

The biodiversity of the South Caucasus is of global importance. However, the diversity of species and the proper functioning of its 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 of yet, however, these are insufficient to meet the challenges of the overlapping interests of different sectors such as forestry, livestock and arable farming, nature conservation and tourism. There is little coordination between the various state and non-state actors, and population groups such as shepherds and farmers. In addition, not enough reliable data on the different sectors is available to support planning and decision-making processes.

Objective

The management of biodiversity and ecosystem services, coordinated across various sectors, has improved through the use of solid data.

Approach

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 how to sustainably manage biodiversity and ecosystem services. These approaches should coordinate the varying interests and take into consideration conditions at the overarching landscape level.

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.

Important partners include the Regional Environmental Centre for the Caucasus (RECC), the secretariat of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development in the Himalayas (ICIMOD).

Results

A number of intersectoral bodies have made far-reaching decisions for better management of natural resources and biodiversity, such as a platform on pasture management in Armenia. 

Data on biodiversity is being collected in collaboration with the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, DLR) and other institutions. After the country-wide mapping of pasture lands in Azerbaijan, policy recommendations could be formulated.

In Georgia, the methodology for the first National Forest Inventory has been developed, data collection will be completed in three out of nine regions in 2019. In addition, forest management planning is being improved and a national Forest Information and Monitoring System is being set up. 

The regulatory framework is improved: in Georgia, a biodiversity law has been elaborated, spatial planning now considers environmental aspects, and national criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management have been developed. 

In pilot areas, erosion control measures were successfully tested: cost-benefit analyses show positive results. The population evaluated these measures equally positive, the satisfaction with the way the natural resources are being used and protected has increased. Also, the vegetation cover in these areas has developed. A success factor for this is the involvement of local bodies in the decision-making. 

Biodiversity topics are embedded into the curricula of training institutions: in the public administration academy in Armenia, and in private universities in Azerbaijan and Georgia. In Georgia, technical vocational education for specialising on the requirements of working in forests is offered at four colleges. By means of regional trainings and international conferences, transboundary biodiversity topics of regional relevance such as setting-up UNESCO Biosphere Areas and measures to prevent erosion are addressed.

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