Boosting Environmental Protection and Sustainable Economic Activities in Machakhela Protected Landscape

UNDP and the Czech Government Launched a Euro 100,000 Project Benefitting 3,000 Residents of the Machakheli Gorge

January 25, 2024
Photo: UNDP Georgia/Irakli Dzneladze
Photo: UNDP Georgia/Irakli Dzneladze

UNDP and the Czech Government launched a new initiative aimed at supporting the Machakhela Protected Landscape, a recently designated protected area in the Ajara Autonomous Republic of Georgia.

The 16-month project, funded with Euro 100,000, seeks to strengthen the administration of the Protected Landscape, formulate a comprehensive management and operational plan, and introduce a functional urban and spatial planning system. This integrated approach is designed to bolster sustainable economic activities in the region while preserving its rich environmental and cultural heritage. The project will continue until March 2025 in close partnership with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia and Khelvachauri Municipality.

On 24 January, H.E. Petr Kubernát, Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Georgia, and Douglas Webb, UNDP Resident Representative a.i. in Georgia, signed a project agreement and discussed further steps towards sustainable development and green growth.

"The Czech Republic stands as a steadfast ally for Georgia, dedicated to fostering a sustainable environment and advancing green technology. In partnership with UNDP and local authorities in the Ajara Autonomous Republic, we are delighted to contribute to the enhanced environmental protection of the Machakheli Gorge—a true biodiversity gem in Georgia celebrated for its unique Colchic Forests."
H.E. Petr Kubernát, Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Georgia
"Protected areas serve to deliver environmental and economic advantages by preserving biodiversity and fostering tourism opportunities. The meticulous management of these areas is crucial to fully harnessing their potential, benefitting both people and the planet."
Douglas Webb, UNDP Resident Representative a.i. in Georgia

The Machakhela Protected Landscape was established in 2022 largely thanks to the collaborative efforts involving UNDP, the Czech Government and the Ajara Autonomous Republic Government. It spans over 4,295.5 hectares encompassing the Machakheli River and its lower tributaries, nine villages of the Khelvachauri municipality, and part of the state forest in the Machakheli Gorge.

Noteworthy for its distinctive forest and river habitats, as well as a rich cultural landscape featuring historical and cultural heritage sites, the Machakhela Protected Landscape has a direct connection with three protected areas safeguarding the UNESCO-protected Colchic Rainforests – Kintrishi, Machakhela, and Mtirala national parks, known as a 'slice of the Amazon in Eurasia.'

The effective management of the Machakhela Protected Landscape is expected to catalyze the development of environmental tourism, promote sustainable farming, and create environmentally friendly economic opportunities for more than 3,000 residents of the local villages. Significantly, a well-functioning protected area will regulate construction projects in the region, ensuring an environmental perspective in the face of rapid infrastructural development.

Background Information:

UNDP's support for the Machakhela Protected Landscape follows a series of similar initiatives funded by the Czech Republic, Japan, the European Union, and the Global Environment Facility. These collaborative endeavours extended to assisting in the establishment and growth of the Machakhela National Park and promoting biodiversity monitoring, alongside rural development projects designed to benefit the residents of the villages nestled within the Machakheli Gorge.

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