Georgia’s Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands nominated as UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site
For the first time in Georgian history, some of the country’s Protected Areas have been nominated as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site.
Georgian Protected Areas nominated as UNESCO Natural Heritage Site
Article issued by the Agency of Protected Areas of Georgia
Unique biodiversity, various ecosystems and landscapes with majestic mountains, green hills and rocky beaches, that is Georgia – a beautiful country full of contrasts in the Caucasus region, on a strategic crossroads of Europe and Asia.
Georgian people are very proud of their natural heritage and especially of the Protected Areas, which undoubtedly represent the distinctive natural treasure of the country.
Currently, 87 Protected Areas of six different IUCN categories exist on the national level, comprising 667 000 ha in total. Despite the small area, Protected Areas are distinguished with unique biodiversity, and are undoubtedly worth visiting at least once in a lifetime to create unforgettable memories.
The year 2019 has started with some significant events for the Agency of Protected Areas, which is the main responsible body for managing and preserving Protected Areas in the country. For the first time in Georgia, Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands have been nominated as the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. This case is unprecedented, as the natural monuments in Georgia have never been nominated as a UNESCO Natural Heritage Site until now, although the country has plenty of architectural wonders and art inscribed as UNESCO cultural heritage Sites – showcasing Georgia’s vibrant culture.
In early October of this year, within the frames of the nomination procedures, two IUCN experts have visited all the seven component areas to assess the unique biodiversity and management efficiency of nominated property. Within the appraisal mission, various field trips, workshops and meetings with the local communities have been arranged. Furthermore, at the end of the mission, an extended conference with the active engagement of various stakeholders has been conducted to discuss and summarize the implemented activities within the evaluation mission.
Recognition of Georgian Protected Areas
Nomination of protected areas as a World Heritage Site has the utmost importance for the country. According to the documentation, the four protected areas have been selected for the nomination of serial property: Mtirala National Park, Kolkheti National Park, Kintrishi and Kobuleti Protected Areas, which represent an important part of Caucasus eco-region and the Black Sea Basin.
Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands represent the main habitats for relict and endemic species of the Red List. Kolkheti lowland is the shelter of important species that survived the glacial period.
Granting the status of the World Heritage Site will enhance the recognition of protected areas of Georgia on national, as well as on international level, which will ensure better conservation of these areas, development of eco-tourism on selected areas which, as a result will be beneficial for improving social-economic conditions of local people living adjacent to protected areas.
Georgia is looking forward to the final decision of UNESCO World Heritage Committee which will be officially published in the upcoming year 2020.