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Full Strategy
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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.

Biodiversity of the Caucasus is being lost at an alarming rate. On average, nearly half of the lands in the hotspot have been transformed by human activities. The plains, foothills, and subalpine belts have been the most heavily impacted. Numbers of large herbivores, such as red deer, have dropped dramatically in the past century.

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 Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) strategy for this hotspot is based on the results of stakeholder workshops and background reports coordinated by the WWF Caucasus Programme. More than 130 experts representing scientific, governmental, and nongovernmental groups from the six countries participated in these preparations.

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:
  1. support civil society efforts to promote transboundary cooperation and improve protected area systems in five target corridors
  2. strengthen mechanisms to conserve biodiversity of the Caucasus hotspot with emphasis on species, site, and corridor outcomes
  3. implement models demonstrating sustainable resource use in five target corridors
  4. increase the awareness and commitment of decisionmakers to biodiversity conservation in five target corridors
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CEPF accepts proposals for civil society projects in Iran, but our support is restricted by U.S. law at this time. This applies to all grant applicants regardless of nationality.

News & Feature Archive


- Fact sheet (PDF) English (PDF, 38 KB) / Russian (PDF, 145 KB)
- Full strategy with graphics and appendices English (PDF, 3.5 MB) / Russian (PDF, 4.8 MB)
- Map of CEPF conservation targets in the region (PDF, 2.4 MB)

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