Sustainable forest use and conservation of the Kaçkar Mountains

The Kaçkar Mountains Sustainable Forest Use and Conservation Project developed by the TEMA Foundation (an IUCN Member), Nature Conservation Center and Middle East Technical University was presented to the European Union’s Forests and Tropical Forests Grant Program for Developing Countries and was selected for funding by the EU among 350 projects worldwide.

Kaçkar Mountains Photo: Yıldırım Güngör

The Kaçkar Mountains are the western extension of the Caucasus Mountains, designated as one of 34 world’s biodiversity hotspots by Conservation International. Between 2004 and 2007, the Lower Caucasian Forests Gap Analysis Project was conducted in the area and studied unique and endangered natural areas, conservation activities, and opportunities through collaboration with the relevant public bodies, NGOs and local people. The Kaçkar Mountains Sustainable Forest Use and Conservation Project bulids on this work. 

The objectives of the Project include developing scientific methods for the conservation of the Kaçkar Mountains and establishing a model to convey its values to future generations. It is designed to support the local people to turn the resources of the forests into additional sources of income and improve their quality of life. Regarding wildlife development, the project aims to monitor and conserve wildlife, while providing local people with the methods to conserve their products without harming wildlife. 

To foster tourism - the most promising source of income for the region, a region-specific tourism strategy was developed together with stakeholders. Marketable tourism products such as festivals, trekking, rafting and mountain biking were specified in selected areas, and information on these products was given to tourism operators. 

Studies, activities and trainings were conducted to eliminate basic deficiencies in necessary infrastructure, standardization, supply chain, institutionalization and registering system as per the specified regional development model.

The project is a successful example of how the European Union, NGOs, universities, public institutions and local people can cooperate for the sustainable use of resources.

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