At present Kazbegi Protected Areas are presented by
Kazbegi National Park (IUCN Category II), and five Natural Monuments (IUCN Category III):
Designation of some areas as Category V or VI might be considered.
Kazbegi National Park is located in the historical gorge on the northern slopes of the Caucasus range, approximately 155km NE of Tbilisi along the historical Military highway connecting Wladikavkas and Tbilisi. The territory of Kazbegi Protected Areas is fragmented, with a total area of 8707 hectares. It stretches out over several thousand hectares and displays a magnificent patchwork of ancient gorges and wild river valleys, topped by majestic snow-capped mountains. At 5,047 metres, the dormant volcano (mount Kazbek) is the third highest peak in Georgia. The region is tectonically very active, with regular small earthquakes and geothermal hot springs.
The National Park’s landcover is represented by 1347 species of alpine, subalpine, xerophytic and other type of vegetation. Among them 26% are endemic plants and several are included in the Red List of Georgia (Quercus macranthera, Ulmus glabra, Ulmus minor Mill.). Kazbegi National Park forests, located on steep slopes, are composed of 105 species of woody plants with significant domination of birch, pines, junipers and cranberries. The local fauna is rich as well. Most of the animals spread here are rare and endangered species included in the “Red List” of Georgia: e.g. East Caucasian tur, chamois, brown bear.
Historical and cultural monuments, churches, watchtowers and traditional villages dot the valleys. Local people, the custodians over Georgia’s far north, are hospitable and uphold the local traditions, which are closely connected to folklore and myths. The National Park offers a number of eco-tourism activities. Despite the lack of tourism infrastructure, Kazbegi National Park is one of the most visited places among the protected areas of Georgia.
Prior to the launch of the Programme, Kazbegi National Park has been intensively studied in the Feasibility study to the project. The main outlined weaknesses of the area and threats to it included disparate structure of protected forest patches, lack of community ownership and PA acceptance, significant pressure on natural resources due to rapid tourism development and Hydropower Plant installation. The PA administration was reported to be poorly equipped, their capacities were extremely limited. The SPPA-Georgia seeks to address all these issues. Among other activities and in line with APA’s intention, changes to the current zoning system and possible enlargement of the area have been proposed.
Further information about Kazbegi National Park can be found here:
Address: 62 Vazha-Pshavela St., Lower Stepantsminda
The National Park’s administration also runs a page on Facebook (in Georgian).
During the first year of the SPPA-Georgia Programme, the Regional Advisory Council for Kazbegi National Park was established. The list of RAC members with contacts can be downloaded here.