Georgia’s oldest protected area benefits from SMART technology

UNDP, the Caucasus Nature Fund and the Agency of Protected Areas work together to improve biodiversity monitoring in Georgia

July 7, 2022
Lagodekhi Protected Areas

Photo: UNDP/Leli Blagonravova

Lagodekhi is Georgia’s oldest protected area established more than a century ago, in 1912. It covers up to 25,000 hectares of woodlands, rivers and lakes and is famous for its diverse climate zones, pristine landscapes and tourist attractions. Lagodekhi is also home to a range of endangered and rare species, such as East Caucasian Tur, red deer, brown bear, Caucasian Grouse, Caucasian Snowcock, Caucasian oak and Caucasian persimmon.

The Agency of Protected Areas under Georgia’s Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture manages this vast terrain to safeguard natural treasures from illegal hunting and logging and collect information about biodiversity and climate change.  

To help the rank of 20 professional rangers fulfil their daunting and sometimes dangerous patrolling task, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Caucasus Nature Fund (CNF), with financial support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), equipped them with modern biodiversity monitoring technology.

The Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) enables rangers to use smartphones and tablets to collect real-time information on poaching incidents and wildlife sightings and detect signs of plant infestation. Data collected during patrols are being processed in a unified database, with software then shaping the choice and frequency of ranger patrol routes.

Twelve protected areas are now piloting the SMART technology to then introduce it to Georgia’s all 93 protected areas in 2023.

UNDP and CNF assisted the Agency of Protected Areas to purchase the SMART equipment and train over 260 officers and rangers through face-to-face courses, practical exercises and a specially created e-learning platform. The platform offers rangers SMART tutorials and other training programmes focused on biodiversity monitoring, plant diseases, tourist trail management and visitor services. It also helps rangers to manage poaching incidents and other violations and illegal actions. The e-learning platform was created by the civil society organization ‘Environment and Development’, using UNDP’s corporate e-learning tool as a model.

Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture Yuri Nozadze, Chairperson of the Agency of Protected Areas David Iosebashvili, UNDP Deputy Representative Anna Chernyshova and Executive Director of the Caucasus Nature Fund Tobias Muenchmeyer visited Lagodekhi National Park on 5 July.

“Georgia’s history of managing and developing protected areas spans more than a century. Lagodekhi Nature Reserve, which was established 110 years ago, is the first protected area in Georgia and the entire Caucasus. Its territory covered around 3,500 hectares at that time. Today, Georgia's protected areas have been expanded to 800,000 hectares. The modern SMART technology will improve patrolling and make protected areas’ management more effective. Special software will process unified data on biodiversity and law enforcement. The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture pays special attention to improving the social conditions of rangers and equipping them with modern technology in line with international experience. Donor agencies provide critical support for this effort"
Yuri Nozadze, Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture
“UNDP congratulates Lagodekhi Protected Areas on its 110th anniversary. It is a privilege to help this stunning park to develop and grow. People and the planet need protected areas to save priceless ecosystems, conserve natural resources, maintain food security and water quality, and build resilience to climate change”
Anna Chernyshova, UNDP Deputy Representative

UNDP support for Georgia’s protected areas draws on the GEF-funded US$1.8 million initiative implemented in partnership with the Agency of Protected Areas and CNF. The programme helps improve the management of 12 major protected areas in Georgia and introduce modern approaches to biodiversity monitoring and conservation.

Media contacts