CNF Grants EUR 870,000 to Georgian National Parks

The Caucasus Nature Fund (CNF) has pledged to spend EUR 870,000 on three national parks in Georgia over the period of 2019 to 2021.

The three parks targeted for the new investment are: Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park, Mtirala National Park near Batumi, and the Pshav-Khevsureti National Park. The project will develop visitor infrastructure in the parks, install surveillance equipment and conduct monitoring of the protected areas, and increase wages and improve living conditions for park rangers.

The new agreement was officially signed on Wednesday, April 3, at the administrative office of the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park.

CNF is a conservation trust fund created to safeguard the Caucasus eco-region, one of the most biologically rich and diverse areas on Earth. It provides grants to the protected areas of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, and builds the government’s capacity to sustain the parks for future generations. Initially established in 2007 by the German Government (BMZ), the KfW Development Bank, Conservation International, and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), today it counts among its sustaining partners Georgian entities including Bank of Georgia, TBC Bank, and ProCredit Bank Georgia.

CNF has been working to provide funding and support for nature conservation in Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia since 2008. In February 2017, the Fund allocated EUR 240,000 to Georgian nature conservancy from 2017 – 2019. The bulk of that funding went towards operational expenses relating to the functions and activities of the Lagodekhi Protected Areas. Specifically, the grant covered increases in salaries for staff in the Protected Area, including park rangers, infrastructure development, construction and renovation parking lots, and much-needed biodiversity monitoring activities carried out in the Lagodekhi Protected Area.

Many of Georgia’s protected areas are neglected by visitors, both international and domestic, due to a lack of infrastructure that makes it difficult to access and enjoy the natural attractions. CNF focuses much of its work on infrastructure development, as well as motivation of key staff through trainings and increased resource provision.

The new tranche of funding continues CNF’s commitment to regional nature conservancy through supporting nine government-designated national parks and protected areas across Georgia. CNF also supports six national parks and protected areas in Armenia and three in Azerbaijan. The grant complements the five year ‘Enhancing Financial Sustainability of the Protected Area System in Georgia’ program, which kicked off on February 28. The project is funded by the Global Environment Facility through the UNDP, implemented by the Caucasus Nature Fund and partners directly with Georgia’s Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture. CNF will work closely with the Agency for Protected Areas to secure long-term financial sustainability and improve management of parks and protected areas through modernization. The project’s goal is to conserve globally significant biodiversity in twelve protected areas in Georgia, and will introduce innovative financing schemes, build the capacity of relevant staff members, and improve biodiversity indicators.

At the project’s launch event, CNF’s Executive Director Geof Giacomini summarized, “To achieve our ambitious goals, the project depends on partnership with numerous stakeholders as well as an appetite for innovation. Through this new funding, CNF will address the capacity needs in Georgia’s PA system in a systematic way, creating a long-term training program, while also introducing more modern technology and creative approaches to financing in Georgia’s PA systems.”

CNF allocated its first grant in Georgia to the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park in 2009 as an emergency response grant that helped the authorities procure fire equipment and vehicles. Since then, CNF has provided nearly three million EUR in funding to Georgian national parks and protected areas.

By Samantha Guthrie

Image source: Agency of Protected Areas

04 April 2019 18:12