Within the framework of the GEF-funded project “Achieving Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) Targets of Georgia through Restoration and Sustainable Management of Degraded Pasturelands”, on 4-6 April 2023, informative and practical workshops were organised by the Regional Environmental Centre for the Caucasus (REC Caucasus) for the local farmers in pre-selected priority pilot areas of village pastures in Naniani (Gurjaani municipality), Ganakhleba (Dmanisi municipality) and Sno (Kazbegi municipality) villages.
Up to 25 local farmers gathered for the workshops held at each of the target villages where important discussions and consultations were carried out on the measures envisaged by the pasture restoration plans. The aim of the pieces of training was to inform local farmers about the planned activities in the village within the scope of the project as well as provide an overview of the advantages of the novel controlled grazing methodology to be introduced in the target municipalities.
The capacity-building training was led by international project expert Nicholas Sharpe. His presentation introduced the concept of holistic planned grazing whereby livestock managers subdivide their land into grazing divisions (i.e., pastures, paddocks) to gain control over livestock movements and ensure the land is not overgrazed.
“All domestic animals have a positive or negative impact on land, depending on how they are managed. If managed correctly, cattle can be moved in a planned way and allow their behaviour to kickstart key biological processes that might stall a situation that could lead to desertification” noted Nicholas Sharpe, as he went on to highlight the importance of controlled grazing in the achievement of greater biodiversity below and above ground, improved fertility, and a boost in ecological resilience of the pasture.
The international expert provided on-job (hands-on) training for local beneficiaries in conducting grazing capacity analyses and planning the grazing applications for the first year of pasturelands restoration measures implementation. In particular, Nicholas Sharpe provided an in-depth explanation of how to use the Annual Grazing Planning sheet for pilot areas of village pastures and, following the first year of grazing plan implementation, how to adapt management practices to overall productivity objectives. The expert showcased the importance of gathering field data, assessing and monitoring pastureland conditions over the grazing period, developing a Grazing Objectives Sheet and carrying out Grazing Days calculations for the development of grazing calendars for each pilot pasture in the villages of Naniani, Ganakhleba and Sno; Appropriate recommendations were also provided to the local farmers to ensure the effective implementation and sustainability of restoration measures on the pilot pastures in the target villages.
The project, coordinated with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia (MEPA), is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The project implementing partner is the Regional Environmental Centre for the Caucasus (REC Caucasus). The Caucasus Network of Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations (CENN) is also participating in the project.