Expertise on Demand: Protected Landscapes in Georgia

Czech-UNDP Partnership supports two different modalities. Apart from Challenge Fund, Partnership supports a second modality – Expertise on Demand (EoD). The main objective of expertise is the transfer of Czech experience and specific know-how in the target countries of the Czech-UNDP Partnership and create opportunities for sharing Czech expertise and strengthening expert capacities within the global UN system. Expertise includes technological assistance, expert consulting, preparation of feasibility studies and other.  The usual budget for EoD initiatives is between US$ 10,000 and US$ 40,000.

Today, we would like to introduce one of our successful Expertise on Demand projects implemented in Georgia – Protected landscapes designation and management guidelines in Georgia.

Protected landscape as a category of protected area is quite a new topic in Georgia. Although the country is rich in a mixture of its nature, biodiversity, and cultural heritage (thanks to a diversity of ethnics and communities with their traditions), so far mainly pristine natural areas (national parks) are preserved. This project aimed to develop specific country guidelines for the establishment, governance and management of Protected Landscapes as unique category in the country.

Experts Michael Hošek and Ondřej Bušek in cooperation with Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia, UNDP and other local partners prepared these guidelines and can now share their experience of implementing Expertise on Demand. Many thanks to Mr. Hošek for the following interview.

Could you explain us how the Protected Landscape concept started and how it evolved from its early days to the guidelines we have now?

Protected landscape as a category of protected area is in the respective Georgian law since its first approval. Nonetheless, for a long period Georgian nature conservation was focused mainly on preservation of wilderness or predominantly untouched nature via designation of national parks network. Protected landscape is a different concept – well-balanced conservation of natural and cultural heritage done by participatory approach in a cooperation with local communities. Georgia has a huge potential in such landscapes, and Georgian experts realized that they need to be conserved and used in a traditional way. And that is origin of our activity – to share our experience with that kind of protected area category and build capacity for systematic establishment of the protected landscapes network in Georgia.

What are the reactions of locals? How is the concept of Protected Landscapes perceived in Georgia?

In general, reactions are positive. Opposite to national parks and reserves that are managed by central Agency of Protected Areas, protected landscapes are the only category allowing local communities to take a part on planning and use of their areas. And thus, to have future development in their hands. it makes a space for region-specific approaches preserving unique values of each community and build opportunities for development (including tourism) that are more sustainable. 

What are the next steps now to ensure that the guidelines will be used on the national level? Do you foresee any complications?

 The main beneficiary of the activity was the Ministry of the Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia. Based on very good cooperation with them and feedback to our contribution, we are sure that documents will be taken seriously and utilized in strengthening protected landscapes development in Georgia. 

What did you find was the biggest advantage for you to cooperate on the expertise with UNDP?

For sure it was previous experience with Georgian conditions, cooperation with Georgian institutions, UNDP Georgia and experts. Having that (as an asset of ten-year-long cooperation in the country), we could skip introductory activities and „jump“ directly to the activity implementation. 


About the Czech-UNDP Partnership – Challenge Fund and Expertise on Demand

Through the Challenge Fund and Expertise on Demand, the Czech-UNDP Partnership for SDGs brings innovative solutions from the Czech Republic’s private sector, NGOs, universities, state institutions, research centres and individuals to tackle specific developmental challenges in the priority countries. The implementation of projects and expertise is financially supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic.