Kazbegi National Park is to be substantially expanded
12 November, 2018
Kazbegi National Park is to be substantially expanded
A substantial extension of the Kazbegi National Park has come one step closer. Last week, a new bill overcame the first of three parliamentary hurdles. The Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Committee of the Georgian parliament supports the bill that targets an enlargement of the National Park area from currently 10,000 hectares up to almost 80,000 ha in total.

This first reading it the most important one – says Ramaz Gokhelashvili who is managing the governmental program “support program of protected
areas” that drafted the bill concerned. Thus, he is positive that the bill will finally pass before the end of this year. The enlarging project is funded by the German government and implemented by the agency of protected areas. 

The Kazbegi National Park is home to the largest population of Caucasian goats – an endangered species, Photo courtesy: Caucasian Nature Fund

Protection of one of the world richest biodiversity hotspots

Kazbegi National Park is located in the Greater Caucasian Mountains and owes its name to Georgian’s highest peak, Mount Kazbeki. The region belongs to the most popular hiking spot among tourists. Recognized as one of only 35 biodiversity hotspots worldwide, the Caucasus is home of over 1,650 endemic plants and animals. That means that those species exist only in this region and nowhere else on Earth.

Read more: Kazbegi among 100 trips everyone should take in their lifetime

However, Kazbegi is the hotspot of the hotspot, so to say. The Kazbegi municipality has the highest number of species in general and the highest number of endemic species – says Ramaz Gokhelashvili. As a consequence, Kazbegi is among the priority areas throughout the Caucasus region in terms of natural conservation.

The vast nature is at risk due to human activities, photo courtesy: www.apa.gov.ge

Sadly, this nature treasury is at risk because of human activities. The list of the biggest threats to the nature of the Caucasian Mountains is vast. Among them illegal logging, fuel wood harvesting and the timber trade, poaching and illegal wildlife trade, infrastructure development, and pollution of rivers and wetlands.

The local population supports the enlargement of the Kazbegi Natural Park

The enlargement plans of the national park are also backed up by the local communities. This is a crucial point and quite often such protective areas are prevented by locals. In this case, however, quite the opposite is true. The local communities even wanted a bigger area to be added to the park – says Ramaz Gokhelashvili.

More protected areas can help to protect this unique nature treasury, photo courtesy: www.apa.gov.ge

Obviously, the intensive discussions with the local people have paid off. According to Gokhelashvili in the case of Kazbegi National Park, the enlargement is a win-win-situation for all parties. It creates new job opportunities such as rangers and the locals are allowed to continue their traditional activities like grazing and mowing even within the framework of the park. Furthermore, hereby the land that historically belongs to the locals is protected and cannot be privatized in future, which is one of the biggest fears of local communities.

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