New plan for nature conservation in the Caucasus

16 July 2012 | News story

The “Ecoregion Conservation Plan for the Caucasus” lays the framework for nature conservation and guides the efforts of all conservation actors working in the Caucasus Ecoregion. In a collaborative effort to account for the important progress made since the previous edition of the document published in 2006, the plan has recently been revised and updated by the Caucasus Biodiversity Council (CBC) supported by the WWF Caucasus Programme Office.

In a special meeting on 8 March, 2012 in Batumi, the CBC reviewed all input from experts in the countries’ environmental ministries, nature protection agencies, NGOs and scientific institutions to develop the final version of the Plan.

The IUCN Caucasus Cooperation Centre has been an observer to the CBC since 2006 and played an important role in the revision process. “Our work in the Caucasus is guided by the Plan and we will actively cooperate with other key players to realize urgent actions by 2015, keeping in mind the medium and long-term targets” says Anja Wittich, the Head of Office of the IUCN Caucasus Cooperation Centre.

The global importance of this Ecoregion’s biological diversity was highlighted in 2010 when the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species identified around 50 species of globally threatened animals in the Caucasus. According to the newly revised plan, “The Caucasus is one of the most biologically rich regions on Earth.” It has been designated as one of WWF’s 35 priority places as well as one of Conservation International’s 34 biodiversity hotspots, defined as the richest and most threatened reservoirs of plant and animal life on Earth.

The extraordinarily rich biodiversity of the Caucasus is disappearing at an alarming rate. The findings of the newly revised plan show that some of the main threats to biodiversity in this region are construction of large-scale infrastructure and roads, power and electrical lines, unsustainable logging of forests and the overgrazing of pastures.

The updated Ecoregion Conservation Plan helps mitigate these threats by establishing targets and actions for conserving priority ecosystems and species for the entire Ecoregion. This regional conservation strategy will play an important role in supporting government, non-government and international organizations in prioritizing their actions.