Land degradation has been recognized as a major global environmental threat. The biodiversity of the Caucasus eco-region that has global significance is being lost at a rapid rate; level of desertification - deforestation and loss of biodiversity - is alarming. The recent inventories and studies revealed that the South Caucasus region faces critical challenges due to the degree of desertification and threats to its fragile ecosystems (specifically the mountain ecosystems, forests, wetlands and related biodiversity) that are largely caused by poverty, unsustainable nature resource management and improper agriculture practices as well as climatic factors.
The forms of land degradation such as desertification, wind and water erosion, landslides, overgrazing, soil exhaustion and others are found all over the South Caucasus region. The land degradation affects heavily local households, leading to decrease of land fertility, lesser yields, low quality crops and, finally, increase of poverty. Land degradation, especially desertification, has triggered migration of rural population (especially from the mountainous regions), disrupted economic development prospects, aggravated regional conflicts and instability, and threatened the lives and livelihoods of local people. The problem is complex and calls for environmental, social and economic analyses and elaboration of effective regional and national action plans.
The need of regional cooperation in combating desertification has been stressed at the International Conference on the Issues of Draught and Desertification in the Countries of the South Caucasus hosted by REC Caucasus in 2002. Even though desertification has intensified over the past years in the South Caucasus region and vast areas are now degraded, no measures have been taken at the regional level to address this problem.
Our projects: Sustainable Land Management for Mitigating Land Degradation and Reducing Poverty in the South Caucasus Region.
REC Caucasus's effort to combat land degradation resulted in "Sustainable Land Management for Mitigating Land Degradation and Reducing Poverty in the South Caucasus Region" project. The goal of the proposed project was to ensure continued ecosystem functions and integrity, reduce poverty and enhance food security income for the rural farmers in the South Caucasus countries by combating desertification, strengthening the natural resource base and revitalizing the agricultural sector. The Project has the regional scope and will address policy and institutional issues in the South Caucasus countries as well as will pilot the projects on-site in the transboundary watersheds to identify and promote small community based initiatives proposing sustainable solutions that benefit both the rural poor and the environment.
Specific objectives of the Project:
1. Strengthening policy, planning and regulatory environments for promotion of sustainable land management (SLM) in transboundary watersheds of the South Caucasus region
2. Demonstrating benefits of watershed based sustainable land management and alternative livelihood for rural people while protecting fragile ecosystems and disseminating lessons learned and best practices through developing a replication strategy
Project scope: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia .
Project duration: 36 months