Georgia continues to gain international recognitions and achievement
In 2021, for the first time in the history of Georgia, 4 protected areas: Kolkheti and Mtirala National Parks, Kobuleti and Kintrishi Protected Areas, as unique Colchic Forests and Wetlands, were inscribed on UNESCO World Natural Heritage List, holding a dignified place along with Amazon rainforest, Mount Etna, the Swiss Alps, the Grand Canyon, and the Yellowstone National Park.
"We have undertaken the most important activity to gain international recognition of protected areas. Consequently, in 2021, UNESCO made a historic decision for our country. This is an important step forward in increasing the international awareness and tourism potential of our country, "stated Otar Shamugia, Minister of Environmental protection and Agriculture, addressing the legislature in the format of "Minister Hour.’’
It is noteworthy that in 2020, the Javakheti Protected Areas (Madatapa and Bugdasheni Lakes) were granted the status of wetlands of international importance by the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention. Herewith, Kolkheti National Park and Kobuleti Protected Areas have held this status since 1996.
In 2019, Martvili Canyon named winner of the Landscape Award held within the Council of Europe Landscape Convention as the best ecotourism facility in Europe within 2019 (planning and development - preserving nature, contributing to rising public environmental awareness and involving the population to the development of the Canyon). The Council of Europe Landscape Award was granted to the representatives of the Agency of Protected Areas at the award ceremony on April 8 in Greece.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture and the Agency of Protected Areas have been actively working for years to strengthen international cooperation and partnership, it is utmost important for the Agency to have financial support from international partner donor organizations, as well as to rise private investment.
"We are actively working with the private sector in the context of rising investment. Through public-private partnerships the investment projects with a total cost of 142,900,000 GEL are being implemented. Among them is the development of various ecotourism infrastructure in Tsalka Canyon, the cost of which is 120 million GEL. In addition, we have received significant support from German state development bank - KfW of EUR 16 million, which will be fully used for the infrastructural development of both existing and new protected areas. Obviously, the active financial support of the state in this direction will continue," - stated the Minister.
As of 2021, the current portfolio of grant projects funded by international donor organizations is unprecedented, amounting to more than 55 million GEL In 2022, active work is in progress on various fields, precisely, the Protected Areas’ Mobile Application development process and the nomination of Protected Areas in the IUCN Green List are underway.
The Agency of Protected Areas actively cooperates with international organizations, specifically, (KFW), Caucasus Nature Fund (CNF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Global Environment Facility (GEF), Government of Sweden, European Union (EU), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Municipal Development Fund of Georgia (MDF), World Bank, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) etc.