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.
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plant species unique to Georgia have been discovered to date.
animal species are known to occur in Georgia.
Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has achieved many notable successes working in the region. In 2009, we partnered with one of Georgia’s leading conservation organisations, NACRES, to deliver a three-year, EU-funded project focusing on two protected areas in the eastern part of the country. A major component of this project dealt with human-carnivore conflict between a proud mountain culture, the Tush, and wolves.
In 2013, we expanded our human-carnivore conflict focus to include Armenia, and commissioned studies on illegal wildlife trade in both Georgia and Armenia. New initiatives focusing on the conservation of the Gergeranian pear in Armenia and the conservation of raptors and sturgeon species in Georgia are now ongoing.
Conserving migrating raptors in western Georgia
Conserving Black Sea sturgeon in Georgia
Conserving threatened trees in Armenia
Mountains harbour a wealth of species – some obscure, some iconic – that are perfectly adapted to the high life and, in many cases, are found nowhere else on the planet.
Illegal wildlife trade has become a high-profile issue receiving global media attention, not least because of its devastating effect on populations of rhinos, elephants and other charismatic wildlife.