Environmental Programme for the South Caucasus
Title: Management of natural resources and safeguarding of ecosystem services for sustainable rural development in the South Caucasus (ECOserve)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Countries: South Caucasus: Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia
Lead executing agencies: Armenia: Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development (MoTAD), Azerbaijan: Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Georgia: Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture (MoEPA)
Overall term: 2019 to 2021
The South Caucasus is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world and, at the same time, is one of the regions most in need of protection. The way that natural resources such as soil, air and water are being used in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia is endangering the unique fauna and flora in the region. Action is required primarily in the areas of forest degradation, agriculture and overgrazing. These problems are having a particularly adverse effect on the rural population, which depends on precisely these areas for its livelihood. Around 1.5 million people in Armenia, 4.5 million Azerbaijanis and 1.8 million Georgians are affected. On closer examination, there are differing initial situations in the three South Caucasus countries with regard to the importance of various land use systems and to political dynamics. All three states are forging closer links with the EU to varying degrees – for example, there is an association agreement with Georgia and a partnership agreement with Armenia. As a result of these developments, the three countries have to adapt to international standards in areas such as the management of natural resources.
An environmentally friendly manner of dealing with nature has established itself in the South Caucasus, particularly with regard to the prevailing land use systems. The energy security of the rural population has also been improved.
The project is targeted at achieving ecological sustainability. It includes measures for the introduction of resource-preserving management methods in forestry and agriculture, including pasture farming.
Availability of data: Studies are collecting new and supplementary data on the condition of natural resources (for example: the sustainability of grazing land, biodiversity on agricultural land). Socio-economic studies on trends in the use of resources are being conducted that serve as a basis for political decision-makers to take into account ecological issues in the implementation of ongoing reform processes and to develop and implement corresponding approaches and concepts.
Legal framework: This project aims to strengthen current reform processes. In Armenia, the focus is on legal provisions relating to the management of grazing land and on improved forest management. The regulation of agriculture with regard to environmental issues is being supported in Azerbaijan. Assistance is being provided to Georgia with ordinances and administrative regulations relating to forestry. The overall aim is to put in place the prerequisites for the environmentally friendly management of the relevant land use systems – i.e. in forestry, grazing and agriculture.
Adapted practices: A bottom-up approach (from the local level through to the political level) aims to identify and test local models for sustainable, biodiversity-friendly resource management and for affordable alternatives to the use of firewood (Armenia and Georgia) and manure (Armenia) for heating purposes; these models are to be disseminated to other regions, too.
Information and education services: The project cooperates with educational institutions to organise basic and further training on environmental issues such as innovations in sustainable ecosystem management, climate protection, energy efficiency and renewable energies. The aim here is to raise awareness among young people in particular for the value of biodiversity and nature in general.
Exchange between specialists: Exchange between specialists in the areas of environmental protection and biodiversity is being improved in the three countries. This will also promote peaceful development in the region.