Community-based Landscape Conservation in Georgia
Published: 14 May 2019
Last edited: 29 October 2019
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The Eco-Corridor Fund for the Caucasus (ECF) is a funding instrument supporting community-based biodiversity conservation in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Eco-corridors are created by connecting various classifications of parks and protected areas across all three countries. ECF uses contractual nature conservation agreements and a clear set of processes to fund ecologically sustainable land use in specific regions and selected communities in Georgia. The result is an interconnected mosaic of managed and unmanaged habitats under various land categories and classifications. These community-managed landscapes protect, connect and support healthy native ecosystems while ensuring the socio-economic status of the communities involved is not harmed or diminish, but in many cases is improved. ECF is a not-for profit, practical conservation organization funded by KfW Development Bank and WWF Germany.


West Asia, Middle East
Scale of implementation
Area-wide development
Connective infrastructure, networks and corridors
Forest ecosystems
Freshwater ecosystems
Rangeland / Pasture
River, stream
Temperate deciduous forest
Temperate evergreen forest
Urban ecosystem and build environment
Connectivity / transboundary conservation
Ecosystem services
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Land management
Protected and conserved areas management planning
Sustainable livelihoods
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Ecosystem loss
Invasive species
Inefficient management of financial resources
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Lack of technical capacity
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Unemployment / poverty
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 15 – Life on land
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
Aichi targets
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 11: Protected and conserved areas
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 18: Traditional knowledge
Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources
Business engagement approach
Direct engagement with associations
Indirect through financial institutions
Indirect through government


Adigeni, Samtskhe-Javakheti, Georgia | Khulo Ajara region of Georgia
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By giving local people the training, education and decision-making power to participate in active landscape management, ECF is providing habitats and corridors large enough to sustain healthy populations of plants and animals without impeding local economics and traditional ways of life. The result is an interconnected mosaic of managed and unmanaged habitats under various land categories and management strategies, providing diverse ecosystem services including a solution to landscape fragmentation.  

Through training and education ECF is improving local’s relationship and perspective towards wildlife, increasing awareness and fostering respect and pride for key species. Financial incentives linked to the “Financial Participatory Approach” help limit human-wildlife conflicts by providing funding for basic infrastructure like street lights and electric fences. ECF challenges the idea that nature conservation means a loss in economic value and activity. 


Benificiary Villages:Dertseli, Mokhe, Naminauri, Tsikhisubani

Furture benificiary villages:Didi Zanavi,Patara Zanavi,Gomaro,Nakurdevi, Khevasheni,Bolajuri,Kvemo Enteli,Chorchani,Didi Smada,Patara Smada, Tsre,Pkhero, Shoka,Zemo Enteli,Kikibo

How do the building blocks interact?

Each building block contributes to the signing of a Conservation Agreement (CA) and the accompanying 10-year habitat management plan. 

  • Identifying the priority conservation areas dictates the communities that can participate in the Financial Participatory Approach (FPA).
  • Assessment of the readiness of each community is achieved through the Financial Participatory Approach (FPA) which is an inclusive and participatory tool designed to generate autonomous development strategies.
  • The establishment of community-based organizations (CBOs), assist each community create a relationship with local NGO who will oversee the administrative aspects of a CA. 
  • Securing long term land-use rights for the community means that the local ranger program can provide ongoing wildlife monitoring, poaching prevention and coordinate sustainable land-use without the obstruction of land-use disputes. 
  • Signing a long-term Conservation Agreement puts to use all the data, research and community-strengthening practices from the previous steps and directs the community to reach the attainable and effective conservation objects. 


ECF is improving habitat connectivity in the Caucasus by combining local knowledge and community action with scientific data and modern land-use management practices. The creation of eco-corridors link parks and protected areas, contributing to the preservation of biodiversity inside and outside protected areas and across national borders. The “Financial Participatory Approach” is a community-based approach that works in parallel with landscape models. This process helps ECF identify communities that are ready to commit to conservation goals while simultaneously developing a trust-based relationship. This is the first step towards a “Conservation Agreement” and has positive, trickle-down effects that empower locals to become decision makers and stewards of natural resources while developing pride and protection for key species. Improved pastoral and agrarian productivity and financial incentives encourage the marriage of conservation and community well-being. Conservation Agreements reward and empower locals to preserve nature and local culture, leading to the creation of community-based conservation organizations and sustainable land-use plans that consider biodiversity as and local economy. Specific monitoring process are implemented, including assigning “Caretakers” who monitor/track wildlife movement and enforce anti-poaching laws. 


Carmen Kuntz

The Adigeni region of Georgia and ECF’s Western Lesser Caucasus Eco-Region is known for historic monasteries and ancient metallurgy. Dehrseli is a small community within the region that was identified as candidate for the ECF programme. Over a year ago the community took part in ECF’s Financial Participatory Approach (FPA) a process which aids ECF administration to evaluate if a community is open to and capable of committing to a Conservation Agreement. Zaza Shavadze is a respected community leader in Dertseli and a member of the Dertseli Community Union board. His family and community are one example of the positive effects of ECF’s programme. 


The FPA offers financial incentive to a community as a reward for taking specific steps preparing them to enter into a Conservation Agreement in the future. Some of these steps include creating a collaboration with a partner NGO or institution to oversee progress, developing a capacity for community leadership and ensuring there is community involvement on multiple levels – from school children to community decision makers. The financial award has no parameters attached and the community may use the money for any use; from installing street lighting to improving road conditions. Some communities, like Dehrseli, have been encouraged by the increase in tourism to the area and are working on creating further economic opportunities related to tourism. A group of women in the Dehrseli community have started making socks which they sell to tourists and at local markets.  


The FPA tool helps develop a level of trust between the community and ECF, demonstrating that ECF isn’t about policing or reducing economic activities related to land use, but about fostering a friendship and trust-based partnership where the good of the community is integrated into wildlife conservation objectives. The goal of ECF as a whole is to contribute to ecological conservation in the Caucasus without reducing the income of rural populations and the FPA has proved to be a key stepping stone to reaching this goal. 

Contributed by

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Carmen Kuntz Eco-Corridors Fund Caucasus, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), KfW Bankengruppe (KfW)

Other contributors

Eco-Corridors Fund for the Caucasus