The signing ceremony for the Conservation Agreement between WWF Caucasus and Gonaghkend Tebiet Dostlari community took place on November 15th 2018 in Gonaghkend, in the Guba district of Azerbaijan.
As a product of the Eco-Corridor Fund for the Caucasus (ECF), the planned measures within the Gonaghkend Conservation Agreement contribute to ecologically sustainable land use in the Eastern Greater Caucasus Ecological Corridor in Azerbaijan. This means focusing on sustainable land use and maintaining biological diversity without reducing the income of the local populations.
The wildlife habitat conservation activities under the Conservation Agreement are to be implemented on the Guba Executive Authority (State) owned and community-leased summer pastures in the administrative territory of Gonaghkend, including land outside and within the territory of Gonaghkend CA, and the state-owned forest. In total, this will be 16,000.00 ha.
Gonaghkend Tebiet Dostlariis is a community-managed organization established by local inhabitants to manage the Gonaghkend Conservation Area. The founders and members of Gonaghkend Environmental Association are also members of the regional working group established by ECF’s Financial Participatory Approach (FPA) within the beneficiary communities of Utuq, Garovulustu, Cimi and Gonaghkend of Gonaghkend municipality of the Guba region.
Partners involved in the implementation of the agreement are the Gonaghkend Municipality, Administration of Guba District and local branches of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Gonaghkend Conservation Agreement Nature Conservation Measures:
Maintain high biodiversity in landscapes; improve habitats of Eastern tur, Caucasian chamois, brown bear and red deer within the boundaries of Gonaghkend Conservation Area connecting wildlife population of the south and the northern slopes of the Eastern Greater Caucasus Ecological Corridor
Improve the productivity of animal husbandry in village communities
Prevent poaching through patrolling by Gonaghkend Tebiet Dostlari’s Caretakers within the boundaries of Gonaghkend Conservation Area
Monitor the impact of the measures on target species and biodiversity in general
Gonaghkend Tebiet Dostlariwill receive 440.630 Euro for the implementation of the following conservation measures for the period of 10 years (2018-2029):
1. Establishment of a regulated grassland management system
2. Establishment of pasture infrastructure
3. Establishment of no-go, no-disturbance zones with total coverage of 4,306.00 ha designated exclusively for wildlife (livestock and poaching is absolutely prohibited in these areas)
4. High biodiversity grassland habitat maintenance in no-disturbance zones
5. Anti-poaching control
The local population will benefit from investments into the infrastructure including agricultural equipment and the development of alternative sources of income such as tourism, agriculture (potato and wheat), a small cannery and a water bottling facility. These improvements and investments aim to help reduce rural poverty and improve the overall social and economic situation, thus decreasing the motivation for poaching, illegal logging and overgrazing.
For the signing of this Conservation Agreement, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Azerbaijan, Mr. Michael Kindsgrab, representatives from KFW, WWF and GOPA Consulting all made an official visit to Guba. The delegation was welcomed by the Head of Guba Executive Authority, Mr. Ziyaddin Aliyev, in the Guba executive office. A welcome meeting preceded the signing ceremony where Mr. Aliyev underlined the necessity of the agreed conservation measures and express their willingness to support the implementation and extension of the ECF programme in the Guba region. The executive director of Gonaghkend Tebiet Dostlaripresented announced the conservation measures to be implemented and the expected outcomes.
In attendance at the signing ceremony were members of the Utuq, Cimi, Garovulustu and Gonaghkend communities. It was the first community-implemented conservation agreement in the environmental history of Azerbaijan.