Geopolitically, Georgia is part of the Caucasus region, which also incorporates Armenia and Azerbaijan as well as parts of north-east Turkey, north-western Iran and southern Russia.
Biologically, this ecoregion is one of the world’s richest and most endangered terrestrial ecosystems, part of the Global 200 Ecoregion network and one of only three European Endemic Bird Areas. It is also considered to be a world centre for agro-biodiversity, with many domesticated plant and animal species thought to have originated here.
Georgia itself is listed in two of the world’s biodiversity hotspots and has a diverse array of habitats and wildlife. The country is afforded relative isolation by both mountain and sea but – because it is located at the convergence point of three major bio-geographical regions (Europe, Asia and the Middle East) it harbours a unique combination of species, many of which occur nowhere else.
Many large carnivores are found here, including bears, wolves, leopards and even striped hyenas. Given the traditional shepherd lifestyle of many rural people, these predators are perceived as a threat to people and livestock.
The collapse of the Soviet Union has brought significant social and economic challenges to this region, including widespread unemployment and an increase in rural dependence on natural resources. Unsustainable hunting of endangered wildlife, a developing legislative framework and a growing but unregulated livestock industry are all contributing to an increase in pressure on the region’s natural landscape.