WWF Helps Develop Framework for Investment in the Caucasus

In Focus, October 2002

The Caucasus biodiversity hotspot is home to leopard, wild boar, West Caucasian tur, bezoar goat and numerous flagship bird species. The Caucasus is also categorized as a Global 200 Ecoregion by WWF, which has worked for more than a decade to ensure conservation of the biodiversity in this mountainous range.

CEPF has entered into a partnership with the WWF Caucasus Programme to determine strategic opportunities for future CEPF investments to do the most good in this unique temperate hotspot, which spans approximately 420,000 square kilometers across six countries between the Black and Caspian seas.

WWF will catalyze a stakeholder consultation process, information synthesis and analysis during the next six months that will ultimately result in an ecosystem profileā€”a framework that would guide CEPF investments in the region.

Mobilizing the Preparation Process

CEPF Grant and Program Management directors visited Georgia in September to learn more about the region, meet NGO representatives and participate in a WWF workshop funded by the MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank.

WWF introduced the CEPF team to five natural areas in Georgia:

Each area provides important habitat for species unique to the hotspot and presents a different kind of conservation challenge and opportunity.

The hospitality of the Georgian people is unparalleled. It is customary to conduct business over feasts of cheeses, different kinds of mushrooms, walnuts, grilled eggplant, trout, stuffed peppers, homemade breads and barbequed beef and chicken, complete with homemade Georgian wine.

During the site visit and workshop, CEPF staff joined colleagues from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Europe, Georgia, Iran, Russia, Turkey and the United States to partake in this customary outpouring of conviviality.

CEPF staff met with numerous nongovernmental and governmental representatives, including the Noah's Ark Center for the Recovery of Endangered Species (NACRES), Rec Caucasus, Horizonti Foundation, Georgian Center for the Conservation of Wildlife, the Ministry of Environment and the CUNA Foundation.

Demonstrating a commitment echoed by others who CEPF staff met while in Georgia, Marlen Patsasia, the Director of Colkheti National Park, said securing protection for this vast wetlands would "fulfill my destiny."