Racha-Likhi Ridge: Enhancing Landscape Connectivity and Resilience

Since autumn 2023, the Society for Nature Conservation – Sabuko has launched the project – Racha-Likhi Ridge: Enhancing Landscape Connectivity and Resilience. The project primarily covers and focuses on the Racha ridge, as well as part of the Greater Caucasus and collides with Likhi ridge – the only natural corridor between the Greater and Lesser Caucasus. The project area extends over 153,000 ha which includes 3 Emerald sites and part of the 2 Emerald sites, also Racha National Park and Kvereti Managed Reserve. The biennial project is financially supported by the planning grants of the Endangered Landscapes & Seascapes Programme. The aim of the project is to develop a comprehensive plan for the large-scale restoration of key habitats and ecological connectivity that benefits nature and people. The project aims to investigate prospects for landscape integrity, restoration of damaged ecosystems to yield mutual benefits to people and nature.

Environmental problems and threats

Human activities have a pronounced influence on the natural processes that have shaped the Racha Landscape that includes hydropower projects, illegal and/or unsustainable forest management, mining operations, improper development of tourism and poaching. Additionally, climate change becomes a hindering factor for these processes. The transformation of the landscape is evident, characterized by the lifting of forest lines on the mountains, the substitution of highland grasslands/herbaceous plants with shrubs and forests, and retreat of glaciers due to melting. mountain forests and grasslands represent highly sensitive ecosystems to climate change. Species inhabiting mountainous regions have evolved adaptations to cooler temperatures and the global warming process poses the risk of their displacement by species favoring warmer climates. Forest ecosystems are degraded due to unsustainable forest practices and illegal logging. The illegal/unsustainable logging of the old growth forests is endangering the process of natural succession. Degradation of natural pastures, along with climate change, is caused by insufficient grazing. ungulate populations have faced significant declines over centuries, with some species facing extinction while others have experienced substantial reductions. The grazing activities of these ungulates historically fostered species diversity within natural meadows and subalpine fields. Throughout history, this ecological function once fulfilled by wild ungulates has been assumed by the livestock. However, the migration of local residents to cities that began in the previous century (which was greatly facilitated by the “collectivization” policy of the Soviet government), the depopulation of villages, reduced the number of domestic ungulates, and the existing ecological balance was disturbed. Mountain meadows and natural grasslands began to lose their species diversity and were replaced by scrub and forest. The decline in wild ungulate populations corresponds to a decrease in prey availability for wild predators that increases human-wildlife conflicts. The destruction of livestock by predators causes economic damage to the already small and economically difficult population. The conflict between humans and predators is also stirred up by unsystematic logging and poaching. Sabuko’s future vision involves solving all these problems.

What do we plan with the project?

During the span of two years, Sabuko will undertake efforts across multiple directions:

  • Building an alliance of stakeholders and enhancing coordination among them;
  • Assessment of the baseline situation of biodiversity and other aspects impacting landscape and species restoration in Racha
  • Develop joint vision to enhance landscape connectivity and resilience that will prioritize the recognition and respect of the rights of local communities, including their rights to traditional territories and their involvement

Prepare large-scale restoration plan to ensure biodiversity protection and sustainable use of natural resources in Racha

Related Posts

Racha-Likhi Ridge: Enhancing Landscape Connectivity and Resilience

Since autumn 2023, the Society for Nature Conservation – Sabuko has launched the project – Racha-Likhi Ridge: Enhancing Landscape Connectivity and Resilience. The project primarily covers and focuses on the Racha ridge, as well as part of the Greater Caucasus and collides with Likhi ridge – the only natural corridor between the Greater and Lesser Caucasus. The project area extends over 153,000 ha which includes 3 Emerald sites and part of the 2 Emerald sites, also Racha National Park and Kvereti Managed Reserve. The biennial project is financially supported by the planning grants of the Endangered Landscapes & Seascapes Programme. The aim of the project is to develop a comprehensive plan for the large-scale restoration of key habitats and ecological connectivity that benefits nature and people. The project aims to investigate prospects for landscape integrity, restoration of damaged ecosystems to yield mutual benefits to people and nature.

Environmental problems and threats

Human activities have a pronounced influence on the natural processes that have shaped the Racha Landscape that includes hydropower projects, illegal and/or unsustainable forest management, mining operations, improper development of tourism and poaching. Additionally, climate change becomes a hindering factor for these processes. The transformation of the landscape is evident, characterized by the lifting of forest lines on the mountains, the substitution of highland grasslands/herbaceous plants with shrubs and forests, and retreat of glaciers due to melting. mountain forests and grasslands represent highly sensitive ecosystems to climate change. Species inhabiting mountainous regions have evolved adaptations to cooler temperatures and the global warming process poses the risk of their displacement by species favoring warmer climates. Forest ecosystems are degraded due to unsustainable forest practices and illegal logging. The illegal/unsustainable logging of the old growth forests is endangering the process of natural succession. Degradation of natural pastures, along with climate change, is caused by insufficient grazing. ungulate populations have faced significant declines over centuries, with some species facing extinction while others have experienced substantial reductions. The grazing activities of these ungulates historically fostered species diversity within natural meadows and subalpine fields. Throughout history, this ecological function once fulfilled by wild ungulates has been assumed by the livestock. However, the migration of local residents to cities that began in the previous century (which was greatly facilitated by the “collectivization” policy of the Soviet government), the depopulation of villages, reduced the number of domestic ungulates, and the existing ecological balance was disturbed. Mountain meadows and natural grasslands began to lose their species diversity and were replaced by scrub and forest. The decline in wild ungulate populations corresponds to a decrease in prey availability for wild predators that increases human-wildlife conflicts. The destruction of livestock by predators causes economic damage to the already small and economically difficult population. The conflict between humans and predators is also stirred up by unsystematic logging and poaching. Sabuko’s future vision involves solving all these problems.

What do we plan with the project?

During the span of two years, Sabuko will undertake efforts across multiple directions:

  • Building an alliance of stakeholders and enhancing coordination among them;
  • Assessment of the baseline situation of biodiversity and other aspects impacting landscape and species restoration in Racha
  • Develop joint vision to enhance landscape connectivity and resilience that will prioritize the recognition and respect of the rights of local communities, including their rights to traditional territories and their involvement

Prepare large-scale restoration plan to ensure biodiversity protection and sustainable use of natural resources in Racha

Related Posts