Updates from Georgia’s Protected Areas!

Mtirala National Park in Georgia © Agency of Protected Areas of Georgia

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Good news from our friends & EUROPARC Member the Agency of Protected Areas of Georgia: the Colchic Rainforest and Wetlands have been nominated as UNESCO World Natural Heritage sites. Article issued by the Agency of Protected Areas of Georgia.

In 2019 the Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands were nominated as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site. Sadly, due to the pandemic the committee session was postponed. The nomination will now be considered in July of this year. However, things are looking positive, as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an official advisory body to the World Heritage Convention on natural World Heritage, has recommended inscription of the Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands (Georgia) on the World Heritage List under World Heritage criteria ix and x. This means that, on the technical level, the nomination dossier as submitted by the State Party of Georgia has been fully supported through a comprehensive one-year IUCN evaluation process.

The reasons for nominating this site are numerous as it includes seven areas of rainforests, peatlands and mires in the Colchic, a distinct ecological region in Eurasia. The area at the eastern coast of the Black Sea experiences extremely hot and humid weather. This makes it a unique habitat for numerous species of plants and animals, including the Critically Endangered Colchic sturgeon (Acipenser colchicus). Additionally, the area holds the oldest broad-leaved forests – together with the Hyrcanian forests of Iran and Azerbai­jan – in western Eurasia. These forests have survived the cycles of ice ages and count as some of the most humid nemoral broad-leaved rainforests globally.

Wettlands of Kolkheti NP in Georgia

The nomination is quite the milestone, as for the first time in the history of Georgia, four Protected Areas: Mtirala and Kolkheti National Parks and Kintrishi and Kobuleti Protected Areas, as unique Colchic Rainforests and wetlands, were nominated for UNESCO World Natural Heritage.

Based on the IUCN recommendation, the final decision about the nomination will be taken by the World Heritage Committee at its extended 44th Session in Fuzhou (China), on 16-31 July 2021.

“Here, on behalf of the Protected Areas, we would like to honor the legacy of Mr. Nugzar Zazanashvili – Caucasus program director of World Wildlife Fund (WWF), who has made a truly special contribution to the successful preparation of this nomination, and we immensely thank him for his invaluable contribution to the protection and conservation of Georgia’s unique biodiversity” says the Agency of Protected Areas of Georgia.

EUROPARC looks forward to the final decision, and congratulates the Georgian Protected Areas on the achievement so far.