For the Restoration of the Chachuna Managed Reserve | What has ‘’Sabuko’’ Managed to Change

Chachuna Managed Reserve with a wide open space that follows the river Iori and the gallery forests around it is located In Dedoplistskaro municipality, in the extreme south-east of Georgia.

Higher up, the hills, cliffs and slopes consist of fragments of arid bright forests, semi-desert and steppe vegetation. The fauna of Chachuna is also diverse, here you will meet the Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca), and the nests of vulture and Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) in the rocks.

Biodiversity of the Chachuna Managed Reserve creates a unique environment and an interesting experience for the visitor, as if you are in a completely new, different Georgia.

The Chachuna Managed Reserve was created in 1965 and its territory covers 5032 hectares of land. Despite this, even today many people know only a little about it.

“This is an outstanding place in terms of biodiversity. It is a semi-desert area, where the gallery      forest ecosystem is preserved. And this is the first thing that everyone is interested in. On hot summer days, animals take shelter in the gallery forest,” stated Tinatin Arveladze, Acting Director of “SABUKO” to the interview with “Publika”.

The non-governmental organisation  “Society for Nature Conservation” or “SABUKO” has been working in Chachuna Managed Reserve for several years already. From 2019, they started a project to restore rivers, gallery forests and surrounding areas.

Project Manager of “SABUKO” Alex Mikeladze stated in the interview with “Publika” that before the start of the project they had communication with all stakeholders. Finally, a project was planned for coping with the challenges in the Managed Reserve. There were number of challenges.

“We were aware of certain challenges in the project area. “Chachuna is known as a winter pasture, with a large number of sheep seasonally,” – explains Alex Mikeladze.

According to him, the large concentration of sheep and the unsustainable use of pastures were already creating big challenges in the forest. In semi-desert climatic conditions, the fight against erosion is by all means important, and unsustainable grazing prevents the maintenance and restoration of green cover.

According to Alex, due to the reduction of grass cover, the farmers allow sheep to graze in the gallery forests. Though, the preservation of the gallery forest ecosystem is the most important thing for the local biodiversity.

Along with unsustainable grazing, as Alex explains, provision of water for the sheep was also a problem. The shepherds did not have water spots, so the sheep entered the gallery forests when they were taken to the river. A large number of sheep accumulated in the gallery forests, even if they did not eat they used to trample dawn the young plant.

It’s true that the administration of the managed reserve tried to control the shepherds so that the sheep did not enter the gallery forest while seeking the water, but it is difficult to control thousands of sheep flock.

“Therefore, it was important for us to communicate with local farmers, especially since the project area includes both pastures and gallery forests,” states Alex Mikeladze.

In addition to the unsustainable management of winter pastures, it was revealed that the forest ecosystem faced other challenges as well. It was necessary to identify these threats, and since there was no data, which is important for identifying threats and afterwards responding to them, first of all, it was necessary to study the situation and thoroughly investigate it.

Studies that was necessary to restore the local ecosystem

According to Tinatin Arveladze, at the first stage, in order to identify species that inhabit the area of the forest, basic studies including with camera traps were conducted.

“Studies with camera traps allowed us to find those places that are extremely important for the species and require special protection,” says Tinatin Arveladze.

Hydrological and forest health surveys  were conducted together with Ilia State University as well.

“The study showed that on the one hand the green cover in general is reduced, but the more important problem is that the species typical to the gallery forest within this cover are reduced. This reduction was caused by the fact that the gallery forests are less flooded by the river Iori. It was receiving less water.

According to the studies carried out by hydrologists, it was determined that filtered water comes from the Dali reservoir, which contributes to erosion – it washes the banks and deepens the bed”, says Alex Mikeladze.

Dali reservoir has created problems for Chachuna’s biodiversity

Dali mountain reservoir is located near the Chachuna Managed Reserve, which has a significant role in terms of the problems identified in the Managed Reserve by “SABUKO”.

The construction of the Dali Mountain Reservoir started in the 80s, but the reservoir, which was supposed to be the second largest in Georgia, never started functioning as intended. The territory should have been used for agricultural purposes by means of the reservoir.

However, the Dali Reservoir is not completed, it is sealed and its function is now limited to fishing and irrigation purposes. Instead, the environment in the lower part of Iori has changed due to the reservoir.

According to Tinatin Arveladze’s words it is important to use the reservoir for conservation purposes.

“This reservoir under these conditions has a huge impact on the gallery forest, and the emphasis should be put on conservation needs of the gallery forest in every debate.” In addition to being a protected area, it is also the site of the Emerald Network. It is important not only at the national level, but also for the preservation of the species protected by the Berne Convention in Europe”, says Tinatin Arveladze with “Publika”.

Gabion arrangement

“Sabuko” itself, in order to at least partially eliminate the deteriorating situation in the gallery forests caused by the Dali reservoir, arranged a gabion in one place. Due to gabion, the speed of the river slows down, the water is drained and ponds the surrounding area, which helps to restore the natural state of gallery forests.

As Tinatin Arveladze states, before arranging the gabion, the area was studied and modelled in advance and the places where the gabion should be placed were determined.

Alex Mikeladze mentions that their intervention has already had positive results, so they planned to arrange a new gabion.

“Hydrologist has conducted a study this year, which revealed that up to 2 hectares of gallery forest was flooded with the help of gabion we arranged. However, this was first done as a pilot to see if it would have any results, and it is planned to arrange a second gabion, which will increase the effect by itself”, says Alex Mikeladze.

Tinatin Arveladze talks about another challenge in terms of water supply to the gallery forests. According to her, they are starting to use the land for agricultural purposes in the vast areas near the managed reserve. It is true that those areas are outside the protected area, but the water resource is common and this also poses a challenge to the Chachuna Managed Reserve.

“Considering the rate at which agricultural land is being taken over – olive plantations, almond orchards – this could also pose a significant challenge to the ecosystem of the forest. There is a huge pressure on the utilisation      of the resources of the Iori River, and therefore we want to preserve the vital volume that is necessary for the functioning of the gallery forest,” Tinatin Arveladze told “Publika”.

What has changed for farmers?

For the restoration of the gallery forests, regulation of pastures was an important direction along with water supply which, as Tinatin Arveladze explains, in turn, required complex work. In order to restore the natural cover in the gallery forests, “SABUKO” created corridors for pastures, but in addition to this, a number of other issues related to pastures needed to be resolved.

According to Tinatin Arveladze, communication with shepherds was very important in this regard along with purely conservation and scientific activities.

“They were well aware of the existing problems. They said there is no more grass and they do not know what to do, where else should they graze the sheep. But they didn’t associate it with the fact that overgrazing could also cause it. They attributed it to more natural, climatic processes.”

Tinatin Arveladze says that after starting to work in the Managed Reserve, the manager of the pastures department from “SABUKO” periodically went to the farms and stayed there for weeks.

During his presence into the Managed Reserve, he studied the condition of the pastures and was planning and determining the density and period of time how many sheep should be on a particular plot to reduce the load. Thus, areas that were in a particularly difficult situation were identified.

“We identified the area, which we surrounded with a fence, and this year we already have a visible result. Because we saw the extent the cover was restored in the area where the stress has decreased and the sheep no longer appeared”, Arveladze told “Publika”.

In addition, as Alex Mikeladze says, in solving the issues related to the pastures, it was especially important to have a communication with the shepherds themselves, to listen to them, to understand their problems and wishes. It also contributed to the development of a pasture Management Plan in Chachuna Managed Reserve and supported the farmers to manage the leased areas according to this plan.

“There was an opportunity for us to help with technical knowledge, as well as help with activities that they couldn’t do themselves. We have financed certain activities. For example, it was identified that they needed a watering point and we arranged it. It was important for introducing the rotational grazing, which is required for sustainable pasture management.

We gave veterinary medicines so that the sheep wouldn’t get sick, or die and pose the risk to the environment.

We made a bridge for one of the farmers to facilitate rotational grazing. This made it possible to easily move from one place to another and not to bring sheep into the gallery forest,” says Alex Mikeladze.

The project manager of “SABUKO” says that the cooperation with the shepherds also had positive results. For example, in the beginning only one farmer cooperated in rotational grazing, later three farmers joined, and now 7 farmers are involved.

Also, according to Alex Mikeladze, farmers have sheep, but they are not involved in the supply chain. Therefore, together with the Export Development Association, a study was conducted on this issue, and they want the farmers to take advantage of this potential in the future.

It is important to have good legislation

As Tinatin Arveladze explains, working on legislation was a separate priority in order to solve the challenges there, in parallel with the work in the field in the Chachuna Managed Reserve. This was important in order to fix the situation in Chachuna Managed Reserve in more systemic manner and to improve the ecosystem in the long term.

As Tinatin Arveladze says, their goal is to show the citizens interested in Chachuna how useful it will be to maintain the existing resources and manage them sustainably for a long period. They want biodiversity to be restored in the area of Managed Reserve and, at the same time, to improve the conditions for farmers who actively use the resources there. For this, it is important to improve the legislation.

“We do not have perfect legislation regarding pastures, these regulations are scattered in various acts. In addition, different regulations are required for summer and winter pastures. A single, universal approach will not work.

It is very important to listen to the opinions of the shepherds and to come up with a solution in order to avoid the conflict. As a shortage of resource causes the conflict already “, says Tinatin Arveladze.

Therefore, as she says, while working with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia or the Parliament, they tried to reach the voice of the local farmers and improve their conditions.

In terms of legislation, some steps have already been taken in response to the challenges related to the sustainable management of pastures. The parliament has developed a special decree that defines the number of sheep allowed in the area when leasing state-owned pastures, and the person who leases the state pastures is responsible for observing these limits.

Tinatin Arveladze also points out that it is important for the state to take traditional ownership into account when leasing these pastures. There are shepherds who allowed sheep to graze for a long time. But there are those who live elsewhere and sublease to another shepherd.

This makes it difficult to manage the pastures sustainably, as the sub-leaser shepherd may only stay in the area for one season, so he has no motivation to take care of      it.

“Therefore, it is necessary for the state to check the tenants, whether they actually have sheep and to reduce this practice of sub-leasing. Lease terms are also important. When leasing a pasture for a year, the shepherd has less interest in maintaining it. But, for example, if the lease is granted for several years, the tenant will have more motivation to take care of that area”, points out Arveladze.

However, Tinatin Arveladze sees challenges in the implementation of legislation. According to her, enforcement and monitoring of legislation remains a big challenge.

On the one hand, as she says, controlling a large area requires more resources, which the state finds difficult to allocate, and on the other hand, monitoring itself requires specific knowledge, and it is difficult to find human resources in this regard.

“Therefore, it’s important to have a good legal framework, then enforcement and finally monitoring how the process is going.” And if the state itself does not have enough resources, “SABUKO” or other organisations      can provide support.

Appropriate legislation and the ability to protect these species and areas are also important for species protection. The more ambiguous regulations are, e.g. what is allowed in this protected area, more difficult it will be to enforce the law.” adds Tinatin Arveladze.

Management Plan

According to Alex Mikeladze, the Management plan was also a necessary component to work systematically on the challenges in the Chachuna Managed Reserve. “SABUKO” has already finished working on it.

“The public discussion on the Management Plan has already taken place and we expect that it will be approved this year. After the approval of the Plan, the administration will have a clear vision of how to sustainably manage this area, what is the priority, what should be done to preserve the environment, etc.”, says Alex Mikeladze with “Publika”.

For the popularisation of the Chachuna Managed Reserve

“We have a movie that we have been shooting for two years, and we have also made a board game – “Playing in Iori floodplain”, which turned out to be quite interesting and is played in local clubs. We also had an Artists’ Residency Program, within the framework of which a photo exhibition about the managed reserve should be organised     . We have meetings, periodic trainings, etc.,” Alex Mikeladze recalls the steps taken to popularise      Chachuna Managed Reserve.

content image

As the members of “Sabuko” told “Publika”, they want to make Chachuna more popular, to be known by more people and thus, help its development and security.

At present, more people get to know about Chachuna Managed Reserve and the number of visitors is increasing, but as Tinatin Arveladze says, this is still not enough, Managed Reserve needs more income from tourism.

Tinatin Arveladze points out that for more popularity they decided to arrange tourist infrastructure there. A cottage and a “Supplementary feeding station for vultures     ” are being arranged by “SABUKO” in Chachuna Managed Reserve.

content image

“Supplementary feeding station for vultures  ” is located in a larger field, where a place has been specially allocated to leave food for carrion-eater birds, and visitors can observe the birds from a nearby booth.

In addition, according to Tinatin Arveladze, it is important to preserve the local biodiversity as much as possible, regardless of having the status of Managed Reserve, which, for example, allows more human intervention compared to the nature reserve.

“This is a very important territory for biodiversity. In a small area, you can see species that are difficult to see together both here and abroad.

It is therefore important to ensure that the status of the Managed Reserve does not mean that the area is not adequately protected. On the contrary, as many conservation steps as possible should be taken. It should not be sacrificed even for economic development and utilisation      of resources”, says Tinatin Arveladze with “Publika”.

How will “Sabuko” continue to work?

One stage is being completed in Chachuna Managed Reserve now. Studies, working on legislation or in the field, working with shepherds and authorities. “Sabuko”, as its representatives say, has already received certain results. However, they are not going to stop working in the Managed Reserve. As Tinatin Arveladze states, they want the challenges that Chachuna faces to be solved fundamentally, which is why it is important to stay there and continue working.

“Now we have other components, the project area is also growing; it includes Chachuna, Vashlovani, Samukhi and Kotsakhura ridges. But we remain in the territory of a single ecological network. At the first stage, we already have the basic data and we can compare to those the data obtained from the planned studies.

We got the same opportunity by studying the areas before the arrangement of gabion, when we compared the situation after the first survey, as well as with the data available before and after the construction of fences.

Therefore, sustainability is also important and we want to stay in this place and achieve that at least part of these areas are more protected, while in other places we regulate human intervention”, says Tinatin Arveladze.

According to Arveladze, actions aimed at conservation require time, it will take time for people to see the benefits in this way, but the most important thing for her     is that the state and citizens see that it is more important to manage sustainably and see the benefits in the long term, than to absorb all the resources now at the expense of nature.

This is the main idea that man and nature both benefit from each other. We want to build this entire project on this. Here, both social issues and biodiversity protection are well involved and can serve as a good example of how the two can coexist in harmony.

 

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For the Restoration of the Chachuna Managed Reserve | What has ‘’Sabuko’’ Managed to Change

Chachuna Managed Reserve with a wide open space that follows the river Iori and the gallery forests around it is located In Dedoplistskaro municipality, in the extreme south-east of Georgia.

Higher up, the hills, cliffs and slopes consist of fragments of arid bright forests, semi-desert and steppe vegetation. The fauna of Chachuna is also diverse, here you will meet the Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca), and the nests of vulture and Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) in the rocks.

Biodiversity of the Chachuna Managed Reserve creates a unique environment and an interesting experience for the visitor, as if you are in a completely new, different Georgia.

The Chachuna Managed Reserve was created in 1965 and its territory covers 5032 hectares of land. Despite this, even today many people know only a little about it.

“This is an outstanding place in terms of biodiversity. It is a semi-desert area, where the gallery      forest ecosystem is preserved. And this is the first thing that everyone is interested in. On hot summer days, animals take shelter in the gallery forest,” stated Tinatin Arveladze, Acting Director of “SABUKO” to the interview with “Publika”.

The non-governmental organisation  “Society for Nature Conservation” or “SABUKO” has been working in Chachuna Managed Reserve for several years already. From 2019, they started a project to restore rivers, gallery forests and surrounding areas.

Project Manager of “SABUKO” Alex Mikeladze stated in the interview with “Publika” that before the start of the project they had communication with all stakeholders. Finally, a project was planned for coping with the challenges in the Managed Reserve. There were number of challenges.

“We were aware of certain challenges in the project area. “Chachuna is known as a winter pasture, with a large number of sheep seasonally,” – explains Alex Mikeladze.

According to him, the large concentration of sheep and the unsustainable use of pastures were already creating big challenges in the forest. In semi-desert climatic conditions, the fight against erosion is by all means important, and unsustainable grazing prevents the maintenance and restoration of green cover.

According to Alex, due to the reduction of grass cover, the farmers allow sheep to graze in the gallery forests. Though, the preservation of the gallery forest ecosystem is the most important thing for the local biodiversity.

Along with unsustainable grazing, as Alex explains, provision of water for the sheep was also a problem. The shepherds did not have water spots, so the sheep entered the gallery forests when they were taken to the river. A large number of sheep accumulated in the gallery forests, even if they did not eat they used to trample dawn the young plant.

It’s true that the administration of the managed reserve tried to control the shepherds so that the sheep did not enter the gallery forest while seeking the water, but it is difficult to control thousands of sheep flock.

“Therefore, it was important for us to communicate with local farmers, especially since the project area includes both pastures and gallery forests,” states Alex Mikeladze.

In addition to the unsustainable management of winter pastures, it was revealed that the forest ecosystem faced other challenges as well. It was necessary to identify these threats, and since there was no data, which is important for identifying threats and afterwards responding to them, first of all, it was necessary to study the situation and thoroughly investigate it.

Studies that was necessary to restore the local ecosystem

According to Tinatin Arveladze, at the first stage, in order to identify species that inhabit the area of the forest, basic studies including with camera traps were conducted.

“Studies with camera traps allowed us to find those places that are extremely important for the species and require special protection,” says Tinatin Arveladze.

Hydrological and forest health surveys  were conducted together with Ilia State University as well.

“The study showed that on the one hand the green cover in general is reduced, but the more important problem is that the species typical to the gallery forest within this cover are reduced. This reduction was caused by the fact that the gallery forests are less flooded by the river Iori. It was receiving less water.

According to the studies carried out by hydrologists, it was determined that filtered water comes from the Dali reservoir, which contributes to erosion – it washes the banks and deepens the bed”, says Alex Mikeladze.

Dali reservoir has created problems for Chachuna’s biodiversity

Dali mountain reservoir is located near the Chachuna Managed Reserve, which has a significant role in terms of the problems identified in the Managed Reserve by “SABUKO”.

The construction of the Dali Mountain Reservoir started in the 80s, but the reservoir, which was supposed to be the second largest in Georgia, never started functioning as intended. The territory should have been used for agricultural purposes by means of the reservoir.

However, the Dali Reservoir is not completed, it is sealed and its function is now limited to fishing and irrigation purposes. Instead, the environment in the lower part of Iori has changed due to the reservoir.

According to Tinatin Arveladze’s words it is important to use the reservoir for conservation purposes.

“This reservoir under these conditions has a huge impact on the gallery forest, and the emphasis should be put on conservation needs of the gallery forest in every debate.” In addition to being a protected area, it is also the site of the Emerald Network. It is important not only at the national level, but also for the preservation of the species protected by the Berne Convention in Europe”, says Tinatin Arveladze with “Publika”.

Gabion arrangement

“Sabuko” itself, in order to at least partially eliminate the deteriorating situation in the gallery forests caused by the Dali reservoir, arranged a gabion in one place. Due to gabion, the speed of the river slows down, the water is drained and ponds the surrounding area, which helps to restore the natural state of gallery forests.

As Tinatin Arveladze states, before arranging the gabion, the area was studied and modelled in advance and the places where the gabion should be placed were determined.

Alex Mikeladze mentions that their intervention has already had positive results, so they planned to arrange a new gabion.

“Hydrologist has conducted a study this year, which revealed that up to 2 hectares of gallery forest was flooded with the help of gabion we arranged. However, this was first done as a pilot to see if it would have any results, and it is planned to arrange a second gabion, which will increase the effect by itself”, says Alex Mikeladze.

Tinatin Arveladze talks about another challenge in terms of water supply to the gallery forests. According to her, they are starting to use the land for agricultural purposes in the vast areas near the managed reserve. It is true that those areas are outside the protected area, but the water resource is common and this also poses a challenge to the Chachuna Managed Reserve.

“Considering the rate at which agricultural land is being taken over – olive plantations, almond orchards – this could also pose a significant challenge to the ecosystem of the forest. There is a huge pressure on the utilisation      of the resources of the Iori River, and therefore we want to preserve the vital volume that is necessary for the functioning of the gallery forest,” Tinatin Arveladze told “Publika”.

What has changed for farmers?

For the restoration of the gallery forests, regulation of pastures was an important direction along with water supply which, as Tinatin Arveladze explains, in turn, required complex work. In order to restore the natural cover in the gallery forests, “SABUKO” created corridors for pastures, but in addition to this, a number of other issues related to pastures needed to be resolved.

According to Tinatin Arveladze, communication with shepherds was very important in this regard along with purely conservation and scientific activities.

“They were well aware of the existing problems. They said there is no more grass and they do not know what to do, where else should they graze the sheep. But they didn’t associate it with the fact that overgrazing could also cause it. They attributed it to more natural, climatic processes.”

Tinatin Arveladze says that after starting to work in the Managed Reserve, the manager of the pastures department from “SABUKO” periodically went to the farms and stayed there for weeks.

During his presence into the Managed Reserve, he studied the condition of the pastures and was planning and determining the density and period of time how many sheep should be on a particular plot to reduce the load. Thus, areas that were in a particularly difficult situation were identified.

“We identified the area, which we surrounded with a fence, and this year we already have a visible result. Because we saw the extent the cover was restored in the area where the stress has decreased and the sheep no longer appeared”, Arveladze told “Publika”.

In addition, as Alex Mikeladze says, in solving the issues related to the pastures, it was especially important to have a communication with the shepherds themselves, to listen to them, to understand their problems and wishes. It also contributed to the development of a pasture Management Plan in Chachuna Managed Reserve and supported the farmers to manage the leased areas according to this plan.

“There was an opportunity for us to help with technical knowledge, as well as help with activities that they couldn’t do themselves. We have financed certain activities. For example, it was identified that they needed a watering point and we arranged it. It was important for introducing the rotational grazing, which is required for sustainable pasture management.

We gave veterinary medicines so that the sheep wouldn’t get sick, or die and pose the risk to the environment.

We made a bridge for one of the farmers to facilitate rotational grazing. This made it possible to easily move from one place to another and not to bring sheep into the gallery forest,” says Alex Mikeladze.

The project manager of “SABUKO” says that the cooperation with the shepherds also had positive results. For example, in the beginning only one farmer cooperated in rotational grazing, later three farmers joined, and now 7 farmers are involved.

Also, according to Alex Mikeladze, farmers have sheep, but they are not involved in the supply chain. Therefore, together with the Export Development Association, a study was conducted on this issue, and they want the farmers to take advantage of this potential in the future.

It is important to have good legislation

As Tinatin Arveladze explains, working on legislation was a separate priority in order to solve the challenges there, in parallel with the work in the field in the Chachuna Managed Reserve. This was important in order to fix the situation in Chachuna Managed Reserve in more systemic manner and to improve the ecosystem in the long term.

As Tinatin Arveladze says, their goal is to show the citizens interested in Chachuna how useful it will be to maintain the existing resources and manage them sustainably for a long period. They want biodiversity to be restored in the area of Managed Reserve and, at the same time, to improve the conditions for farmers who actively use the resources there. For this, it is important to improve the legislation.

“We do not have perfect legislation regarding pastures, these regulations are scattered in various acts. In addition, different regulations are required for summer and winter pastures. A single, universal approach will not work.

It is very important to listen to the opinions of the shepherds and to come up with a solution in order to avoid the conflict. As a shortage of resource causes the conflict already “, says Tinatin Arveladze.

Therefore, as she says, while working with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia or the Parliament, they tried to reach the voice of the local farmers and improve their conditions.

In terms of legislation, some steps have already been taken in response to the challenges related to the sustainable management of pastures. The parliament has developed a special decree that defines the number of sheep allowed in the area when leasing state-owned pastures, and the person who leases the state pastures is responsible for observing these limits.

Tinatin Arveladze also points out that it is important for the state to take traditional ownership into account when leasing these pastures. There are shepherds who allowed sheep to graze for a long time. But there are those who live elsewhere and sublease to another shepherd.

This makes it difficult to manage the pastures sustainably, as the sub-leaser shepherd may only stay in the area for one season, so he has no motivation to take care of      it.

“Therefore, it is necessary for the state to check the tenants, whether they actually have sheep and to reduce this practice of sub-leasing. Lease terms are also important. When leasing a pasture for a year, the shepherd has less interest in maintaining it. But, for example, if the lease is granted for several years, the tenant will have more motivation to take care of that area”, points out Arveladze.

However, Tinatin Arveladze sees challenges in the implementation of legislation. According to her, enforcement and monitoring of legislation remains a big challenge.

On the one hand, as she says, controlling a large area requires more resources, which the state finds difficult to allocate, and on the other hand, monitoring itself requires specific knowledge, and it is difficult to find human resources in this regard.

“Therefore, it’s important to have a good legal framework, then enforcement and finally monitoring how the process is going.” And if the state itself does not have enough resources, “SABUKO” or other organisations      can provide support.

Appropriate legislation and the ability to protect these species and areas are also important for species protection. The more ambiguous regulations are, e.g. what is allowed in this protected area, more difficult it will be to enforce the law.” adds Tinatin Arveladze.

Management Plan

According to Alex Mikeladze, the Management plan was also a necessary component to work systematically on the challenges in the Chachuna Managed Reserve. “SABUKO” has already finished working on it.

“The public discussion on the Management Plan has already taken place and we expect that it will be approved this year. After the approval of the Plan, the administration will have a clear vision of how to sustainably manage this area, what is the priority, what should be done to preserve the environment, etc.”, says Alex Mikeladze with “Publika”.

For the popularisation of the Chachuna Managed Reserve

“We have a movie that we have been shooting for two years, and we have also made a board game – “Playing in Iori floodplain”, which turned out to be quite interesting and is played in local clubs. We also had an Artists’ Residency Program, within the framework of which a photo exhibition about the managed reserve should be organised     . We have meetings, periodic trainings, etc.,” Alex Mikeladze recalls the steps taken to popularise      Chachuna Managed Reserve.

content image

As the members of “Sabuko” told “Publika”, they want to make Chachuna more popular, to be known by more people and thus, help its development and security.

At present, more people get to know about Chachuna Managed Reserve and the number of visitors is increasing, but as Tinatin Arveladze says, this is still not enough, Managed Reserve needs more income from tourism.

Tinatin Arveladze points out that for more popularity they decided to arrange tourist infrastructure there. A cottage and a “Supplementary feeding station for vultures     ” are being arranged by “SABUKO” in Chachuna Managed Reserve.

content image

“Supplementary feeding station for vultures  ” is located in a larger field, where a place has been specially allocated to leave food for carrion-eater birds, and visitors can observe the birds from a nearby booth.

In addition, according to Tinatin Arveladze, it is important to preserve the local biodiversity as much as possible, regardless of having the status of Managed Reserve, which, for example, allows more human intervention compared to the nature reserve.

“This is a very important territory for biodiversity. In a small area, you can see species that are difficult to see together both here and abroad.

It is therefore important to ensure that the status of the Managed Reserve does not mean that the area is not adequately protected. On the contrary, as many conservation steps as possible should be taken. It should not be sacrificed even for economic development and utilisation      of resources”, says Tinatin Arveladze with “Publika”.

How will “Sabuko” continue to work?

One stage is being completed in Chachuna Managed Reserve now. Studies, working on legislation or in the field, working with shepherds and authorities. “Sabuko”, as its representatives say, has already received certain results. However, they are not going to stop working in the Managed Reserve. As Tinatin Arveladze states, they want the challenges that Chachuna faces to be solved fundamentally, which is why it is important to stay there and continue working.

“Now we have other components, the project area is also growing; it includes Chachuna, Vashlovani, Samukhi and Kotsakhura ridges. But we remain in the territory of a single ecological network. At the first stage, we already have the basic data and we can compare to those the data obtained from the planned studies.

We got the same opportunity by studying the areas before the arrangement of gabion, when we compared the situation after the first survey, as well as with the data available before and after the construction of fences.

Therefore, sustainability is also important and we want to stay in this place and achieve that at least part of these areas are more protected, while in other places we regulate human intervention”, says Tinatin Arveladze.

According to Arveladze, actions aimed at conservation require time, it will take time for people to see the benefits in this way, but the most important thing for her     is that the state and citizens see that it is more important to manage sustainably and see the benefits in the long term, than to absorb all the resources now at the expense of nature.

This is the main idea that man and nature both benefit from each other. We want to build this entire project on this. Here, both social issues and biodiversity protection are well involved and can serve as a good example of how the two can coexist in harmony.

 

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