The Kakheti steppes: a fragile balance between a living landscape or a future desert

The Georgian steppe spanning the area between the Iori and Alazani rivers hosts a unique mixture of Palearctic, Indomalayan and Afrotropical fauna, including jackals, wolves and vultures. It was once home to the elusive Caucasian leopard. The steppe has been used for millennia as winter pastures by semi-nomadic transhumance pastoralists with tens of thousands of sheep, but a combination of climate change and increased stocking densities is causing the degradation of this fragile habitat. The project will build on the progress made by the completed ELP-funded Iori River project. It will scale up grassland restoration and continue working with the pastoralist community to recover and to reconnect wildlife corridors from Kakheti to Vashlavani.

What the project will do

The project’s aims will be achieved through working alongside semi-nomadic shepherds and the agency for protected areas to reconnect habitats and wildlife corridors essential for the elusive Caucasian leopard over 100,000 ha of the landscape.

This includes:

  • 25,000 hectares (20,000 protected areas and 5,000 private areas) of steppe in the Iori Valley are sustainably grazed, resulting in recovery of grassland biodiversity and restoration of soil carbon stocks.
  • Legislation and policies are developed and effectively implemented, leading to improved populations and habitats of focal species.
  • The causes of the local extinction of the Caucasian leopard are addressed (socio-economic and ecological factors) to enable the return of the apex predator.
  • The Iori floodplain forest is restored and hosts high diversity of plant and animal species, vegetation types, and ecological processes.
  • The future of ecologically sustainable rangeland management in Georgia is supported through successful knowledge transfer, increased financial sustainability and raised awareness.

Related Posts

The Kakheti steppes: a fragile balance between a living landscape or a future desert

The Georgian steppe spanning the area between the Iori and Alazani rivers hosts a unique mixture of Palearctic, Indomalayan and Afrotropical fauna, including jackals, wolves and vultures. It was once home to the elusive Caucasian leopard. The steppe has been used for millennia as winter pastures by semi-nomadic transhumance pastoralists with tens of thousands of sheep, but a combination of climate change and increased stocking densities is causing the degradation of this fragile habitat. The project will build on the progress made by the completed ELP-funded Iori River project. It will scale up grassland restoration and continue working with the pastoralist community to recover and to reconnect wildlife corridors from Kakheti to Vashlavani.

What the project will do

The project’s aims will be achieved through working alongside semi-nomadic shepherds and the agency for protected areas to reconnect habitats and wildlife corridors essential for the elusive Caucasian leopard over 100,000 ha of the landscape.

This includes:

  • 25,000 hectares (20,000 protected areas and 5,000 private areas) of steppe in the Iori Valley are sustainably grazed, resulting in recovery of grassland biodiversity and restoration of soil carbon stocks.
  • Legislation and policies are developed and effectively implemented, leading to improved populations and habitats of focal species.
  • The causes of the local extinction of the Caucasian leopard are addressed (socio-economic and ecological factors) to enable the return of the apex predator.
  • The Iori floodplain forest is restored and hosts high diversity of plant and animal species, vegetation types, and ecological processes.
  • The future of ecologically sustainable rangeland management in Georgia is supported through successful knowledge transfer, increased financial sustainability and raised awareness.

Related Posts

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