The Caucasus biodiversity hotspot spans 500,000 square kilometers of mountains in Eurasia between the Black and Caspian seas, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, and small portions of Russia, Iran, and Turkey. Its deserts, savannas, swamp forests, and arid woodlands contain more than twice the animal diversity found in adjacent regions of Europe and Asia.
The major threats to biodiversity in the region are illegal logging, fuel wood harvesting, and the timber trade; overgrazing; poaching and illegal wildlife trade; overfishing; infrastructure development; and pollution of rivers and wetlands.
The strategy is underpinned by conservation outcomes—targets against which the success of investments can be measured. These targets are defined at three levels: species (extinctions avoided), sites (areas protected), and landscapes (corridors created).
As a result, CEPF investment in the Caucasus is focused on conserving the hotspot's globally threatened species, the majority of which are found in specific sites in five target conservation corridors: Greater Caucasus, Caspian, West Lesser Caucasus, East Lesser Caucasus, and Hyrcan.
Four strategic directions guide CEPF's approach in the Caucasus: