The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has a background of active cooperation with the environmental sector in the Southern Caucasus countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. As a first step, in cooperation with WWF, the relevant Ministries and stakeholders from all three countries elaborated an Ecoregional Conservation Plan for the Caucasus (ECP, recently updated). This plan outlines the long-term objectives and strategies to conserve the rich biodiversity in the region.
The Financial Cooperation in the Caucasus is implemented by three main pillars:
This instrument serves to support the protected areas in the Caucasus Ecoregion through investments aimed at establishing and developing individual areas. The investments lead to improvements in management plans and infrastructure (including administrative headquarters, visitor centres and walking trails) and are also used for training measures directed at administrative staff. The investments additionally support socio-economic developments in local communities living near the protected areas.
To ensure the sustainability of direct investments in the protected areas, the Federal Republic of Germany also provides financial support to the “Caucasus Nature Fund” (CNF). CNF is a conservation trust fund working in public-private partnership with the national governments. CNF’s general aim is to stop the loss of biodiversity by providing long-term funding for protected areas in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, improving management practices, and promoting sustainable development. In addition to the support of the German government, CNF is widely supported by major conservation organisations including the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Conservation International and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund.
With addressing the problem caused by a lack of long-term financing for the operational costs of the protected areas, the primary purpose of CNF contributions is to provide grants to support running costs (recurrent costs) of the priority protected areas in the South Caucasus Ecoregion. Further, with FC money, the CNF may also make grants to fund certain costs to develop management plans for the priority protected areas.
CNF has signed “Framework Agreements” with the ministries of Georgia and Armenia, and is currently providing grants to several Protected Areas in Georgia and Armenia. CNF also supports two PAs in Azerbaijan.
For more information see: http://www.caucasus-naturefund.org/
The “Transboundary Joint Secretariat” complements the cooperation between Germany and the Southern Caucasus countries, benefiting protected areas in the Ecoregion through transboundary cooperation and harmonization of national policies. The TJS works to bring important regional aspects and international knowledge on biodiversity on the national agendas.
The TJS has the following objectives:
TJS activities are identified in close collaboration with and on demand of the Environment Ministries of the three South-Caucasus countries. The aim is to ensure that the Investments in Protected Areas (Pillar 1) are embedded in a shared vision of participatory biodiversity conservation.
The SPPA-Georgia activities with regard to socio-economic development in the adjacent communities of the protected areas are also supported by the TJS. Recently TJS has developed and published a concept for socio-economic development measures: “Financial Participatory Approach”. For more information see: http://tjs-caucasus.org/.
Additionally, a new FC Programme "Promotion of Ecological Corridors in the South Caucasus" has started as a complementary component in 2013/14. The supported ecological corridors will serve the purpose of establishing networks of protected areas on the regional level, thus enduring their stability.
Apart from the above described pillars of nature-focused German Cooperation in the Caucasus, WWF and its Branch Office WWF International for the Caucasus Region play now an important role in the donor-funded nature conservation initiatives. WWF work is featured by many years of experience and expertise in the areas of community forestry, afforestation, pasture management, GIS and mapping, climate change adaptation, management planning. The organisation has a strong local and regional network. During 2010-2015 it was responsible for implementation of the Javakheti National Park programme of KfW. Since 2013/2014 WWF is performing the Ecocorridor programme. Furthermore, WWF is involved in the activities of the TJS and provides support to the Caucasus Nature Fund.