Nationally designated protected areas of Georgia

Key messages

The total area of nationally designated protected areas currently covers about 9.9 % of the terrestrial territory and inland waters of Georgia. With this, Georgia is very close to meeting the national target of at least 12 % of the country’s terrestrial and inland water areas and 2.5 % of marine areas to be covered by protected areas by 2020.
Georgia has made substantial progress by including 39 sites with the total area of 851 604.3 into the Emerald network corresponding to 12.2 % of the country’s territory in 2018.
 
What progress has been made with regard to the national designation of protected areas as a tool for biodiversity conservation?

Figure 1 - Change in the number and size of nationally designated protected areas in Georgia (2011-2019)


 
 
Data sources:

Protected areas database provided by Agency of Protected Areas of Georgia, under the ENI SEIS II East project activities

  
Figure 2- Share of protected areas of the territory of Georgia (2019)

Data sources:

Protected areas database provided by Agency of Protected Areas of Georgia, under the ENI SEIS II East project activities
  
 
The total area of nationally designated protected areas in Georgia was 697 250 ha in 2019, corresponding to 9.9 % of the country’s territory. Georgia adopted its national biodiversity strategy and action plan 2014-2020. It sets a national target (target c.4-i3) of having, by 2020, at least 12 % of the country’s terrestrial and inland water areas and 2.5 % of marine areas covered by protected areas. Georgia is quite close to reaching the national target. As a State Party to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Georgia made substantial progress between 2007 and 2019 by expanding the protected areas network from 7.1 % of the territory in 2007 to 9.9 % in 2019. However, the Aichi biodiversity target aims to have, by 2020, at least 17 % of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10 % of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures and integrated into the wider landscape and seascape (see Aichi biodiversity target 11: https://www.cbd.int/sp/targets/rationale/target-11/). With a coverage of 9.5 % of its territory, Georgia is still far from reaching that target.

As shown in Figure 1, there has been growth in number and area of nationally designated areas in Georgia, although it has been levelling off in recent years. The expansion of protected areas and their role in protecting biodiversity have to be considered and assessed within the wider environment and in a climate change perspective. Despite all efforts, the designation of protected areas is not a guarantee of protecting biodiversity. Therefore, beyond this quantitative analysis, specific information on site management and quality would help to complete the assessment of progress towards Aichi biodiversity target 11.

Figure 3 - Progress in protected areas by nationally designated types in Georgia (2007-2019)


 
 
Data sources:

Protected areas database provided by Agency of Protected Areas of Georgia, under the ENI SEIS II East project activities
  
 
 
Figure 4- Nationally designated protected areas by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) management categories (2007-2019)


 
Data sources:

Protected areas database provided by Agency of Protected Areas of Georgia, under the ENI SEIS II East project activities
 
 
Georgia has a high diversity of protected areas, which vary in size, aim and management approach. Analysis shows that between 2007 and 2019 the most common International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) category of terrestrial protected areas in Georgia was national parks (designated as category II), which have increased by 40 % since 2007. At first the main focus was given to the desgination of national parks and natural monuments , with natural monument and habitat/species management areas being established later. Since 2011-2012, the total area of natural monuments (IUCN category III) has increased almost eight times from 314.5 ha to 2749 ha. Habitat/species management areas (IUCN category IV) and protected landscapes (IUCN category V) showed a comparatively slow pace of growth for the same period. However, category IV protected areas have been planned and will be adopted in 2019, which will contribute to the exsiting values and benefits of protected areas. Georgia has been introducing the category of Protected area with sustainable use of natural resources (Cat.VI) into its national protected area system since 2011. In 2019, around 4.5 % of total area of nationally designated protected areas is covered by the category of the Protected area with sustainable use of natural resources.  Moreover, expansion of the nationally desginated protected areas is covered by the category of the Protected area with sustainable use of natural resources.  Moreover, expansion of the nationally desginated protected areas in the country has been defined as one of the priority areas of work between 2014 and 2020 (MENRP, 2014).

Figure 5- The spatial complementarity between European desgination (Emerald Network) and national desginations by share of terrestrial area (2018)
 

 
Data sources:

 
  • Protected areas database provided by Agency of Protected Areas of Georgia, under the ENI SEIS II East project activities
  • Roekaerts, M. and Opermanis, O., 2018. Status of the Emerald Network of Areas of Special Conservation Interest in 2018, Group of Experts on Protected Areas and Ecological Networks 9th Meeting, T-PVS/PA (2018) 11, Council of Europe, Strasbourg. (accessed 15 March 2019)
  
 
The nationally protected area system and the Emerald Network under the Bern Convention are the two most important coordinated European networks of protected areas. The degree of overlap between nationally protected areas and Emerald sites illustrates the extent to which a country has made use of nationally designated areas to underpin its Emerald designation and to what extent Emerald sites extend beyond national systems.
 
The total area of the Emerald Network in Georgia is 851 604.3 ha (39 sites) in  2019, which covers 12.22 % of the country’s territory, and the area coincides with 40.7 % of nationally protected areas. In addition, Georgia has 7 candidate sites and 12 proposed sites with the total area of 188 587.4 ha to be included into the Emerald network in 2019.
 
Nationally desginated areas outside of the Emerald Network account for 412 636  ha. The Emerald Network covers a wider area compared with the national desgination types. Almost 95 % of all nationally desginated protected areas are located within the Emerald Network.
 
As for the management objectives, in most cases Emerald sites overlap with nationally designated sites under IUCN categories I (nine sites) and II (eight sites), which aim primarily to protect ecological processes and biodiversity and have adopted management plans.
 
However, many Emerald sites also overlap with IUCN categories III, IV and V, particularly in mountainous regions, which supports the idea that the Emerald Network is not restricted to nature reserves but also serves the broader principle of conservation and sustainable land use.

Regarding the ownership of the land tenure in protected areas, 63 % of the area of nationally designated areas, corresponding to 39 sites, is under the management of the Agency of Protected Areas.

Map 1 – Nationally designated protected areas of Georgia, 2018


 
Data sources:

Provided by the Agency of Protected Areas of Georgia, 2019 under the ENI SEIS II East project activities

 
Map 2 – Designation status of Emerald Network sites in Georgia, 2019