Georgian natural locations first to be nominated for UNESCO World Heritage List

The Kintrishi Protected Areas are among the four locations selected for the unified nomination of Kolkheti Forests and Wetlands. Photo: Agency of Protected Areas., 05 Feb 2019 - 19:03, Tbilisi,Georgia

Four locations in Georgia’s west could become the first natural sites in the country to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, with the protected areas of Kolkheti, Mtirala, Kintrishi and Kobuleti nominated for the global roster through a collaboration of Georgian and foreign professionals.

The natural spots have been nominated for the list as Kolkheti Forests and Wetlands, reflecting their location in Georgia’s west in an area known in historical records as the Colchis.

Comprising the Black Sea ecosystem and safeguarded by the Agency of Protected Areas of Georgia, they feature “unique ecosystems and rich biodiversity” making them a “crucial part of the Caucasus ecological region and the Black Sea basin”, APA said.

Wetland landscape of the Kobuleti Protected Areas is home to biodiversity environmentalists are working to safeguard. Photo: Agency of Protected Areas.

The specific locations are protected by the agency as its territorial formations:

  • The Kolkheti National Park, established in 1998 to safeguard and preserve the wetlands on Black Sea’s eastern coast;
  • The Kintrishi Protected Areas, formed in 1959 in the coastline Kobuleti Municipality with an area of over 13,000 hectares in the River Kintrishi ravine;
  • The Kobuleti Protected Areas, created in 1998 to safeguard “unique waterfowl habitat wetland ecosystems of international importance” in the region;
  • The Mtirala National Park, established in 2007 within three mountain ranges and hosting visitors with its tourist trails and infrastructure.

A sight in the Kintrishi area, found between mountain formations of Adjara and Imereti provinces to create specific climate conditions. Photo: Agency of Protected Areas.

The Nomination for the four locations represents the “first instance” of Georgian biodiversity coming under international attention, expert David Tarkhnishvili told Imedi TV reporters in reaction to the news.

The initiative for nominating the areas was launched in 2017 with support of the World Wide Fund for Nature and the Mikhael Zukov Foundation and involved field studies of the areas in question for researching their biodiversity.

The World Heritage List features over 200 natural locations including the Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe, Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland and the West Norwegian Fjords.

Three non-natural Georgian monuments are inscribed on the list — the Gelati Monastery in the country’s west, the Historical Monuments of Mtskheta, outside capital Tbilisi, and Upper Svaneti, a highland province in the country’s north.