Public participation in protected areas management in the Caucasus is high on the agenda for IUCN. New governance approaches which contribute to effective management and sustainable natural resource use are at the centre of IUCN’s efforts in the region.
Protected areas (PA) can play an important role in ensuring nature conservation, promoting sustainable management of natural resources, encouraging transboundary cooperation and contributing to achieving environmental cooperation in situations of latent or open conflict.
Currently, the PA systems in the Caucasus countries are governed centrally and characterized by top-down management and consequent lack of wide stakeholders’ involvement. The effectiveness in PA management in the region can benefit from new participatory approaches. This includes the diversification of PA management and the creation of an enabling environment to involve civil society and local communities in the planning and management of individual PAs.
IUCN’s project on “Strengthened Multi-Stakeholder Cooperation in the South Caucasus for Improved Protected Areas Systems” aims to promote cooperation among national and local government institutions, NGOs and community-based organizations for PA governance.
The project’s start point is the realisation that there is a general lack of knowledge and information on the potential benefits of diverse governance approaches – at governmental level as well as at civil society and local levels. To help increase awareness, IUCN has recently conducted an institutional and legislative review of PA governance in all three countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia) and prepared background and training materials, which will be translated into local languages.
As a next step IUCN plans to organize trainings in the three countries for PA agencies and administrations. In a regional conference later this year, representatives from all three countries will be able to exchange experiences and discuss challenges and opportunities.
The project is carried out in the frame of the Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC Initiative).