GEORGIA TODAY APRIL 2016
Protecting Georgia’s National Parks for Our Children’s Children
erman non-profit organization the Caucasus Nature Fund (CNF) recently welcomed its new regional executive director, George (Geof ) Giacomini. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to him about CNF Georgia.
TELL US A LITTLE OF THE BACKGROUND OF CNF IN GEORGIA CNF is a conservation trust fund created to safeguard the Caucasus eco-region, one of the most biologically rich and diverse areas on Earth. We provide grants to the Protected Areas (national parks) of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, and build the government’s capacity to sustain the parks for future generations. Initially established in 2007 by the German Government (BMZ), Conservation International and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and with only one staff member, today we are a team of 10 working in the Caucasus and Europe.
gazelle and red deer. The region is (Georgia). In terms of a particular eyes and putting your finger down also a globally important migra- place in Georgia – I can recommend somewhere! Wherever you end up tory corridor for birds, and there just taking out a map, closing your will be unforgettable. are a host of endemic reptiles and insect species. WHAT CHALLENGES DO GEORGIA’S PROTECTED AREAS FACE? Underfunding of the parks and staff, threats of unsustainable land use (for example, illegal logging) and the illegal hunting of animals (poaching). The staff I met in the parks and at the Ministry want to improve the parks, but more awareness and resources need to be made available in order to ensure our children, and our children’s children can benefit from the beauty of the Caucasus’ nature.
WHAT ARE THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES YOU’VE SEEN IN THE CAUCASUS REGION? Besides the hospitality of people, the thing that impressed me most was the diversity of landscapes, climatic zones and colors – from the red mountains in Gnishik (ArmeWHAT ARE CNF’S nia), to the green wetlands and dry PRIORITIES IN GEORGIA? CNF provides sustainable support spaces in Shirvan (Azerbaijan), to for the operating costs (rangers’ the sub-tropical magic of Mtirala salaries, fuel, equipment, vehicles, etc.) of parks and to improve the parks’ ability to provide better services to visitors, while protecting the flora and fauna in the parks and surrounding areas. We are also working with the government and private sector to finance and support the development of tourism infrastructure, products and services in the parks. TELL US ABOUT THE GEORGIAN PROTECTED AREAS AND NATIONAL PARKS The Caucasus Ecoregion shelters 6,400 species of plants, at least 1,600 (25%) of which are endemic to the region, and a number of endemic animals, including 50 that are considered “threatened”, which means they have a high risk of extinction in the wild. Mammals include the Caucasus leopard, lynx, bears and wolves, as well as goats,
Safeguard - protect Diverse – many different things Grants – money given for a project Capacity – ability to do something Sustain – keep going, help to continue Flora and fauna – plants and wildlife Endemic – born there Extinction – no more left, die out Migratory – moving from one place to another (every year) Logging – cutting down trees, deforestation
Food for Thought Have you been to a national park? Tell your classmates about it. How can we help to protect our flora and fauna? Why is it important to protect our national parks?