On June 19th, 2018 the second annual meeting of the Regional Consultative Forum was held in Borjomi, Georgia.
The forum gathered, stakeholders, managers, locals from participating villages throughout the region as well as the officials from the German Development Bank. The meeting commenced with a speech and tribute to ECF team member Tamaz Gamkrelidze who passed away earlier in the month. A respected and valued member of WWF Caucasus and a supporter of ECF, his knowledge and kindness will be greatly missed, both personally and professionally.
Presentation topics included the status of recently assigned and emerging conservation agreements in the three pilot corridors. Networking and informal meetings were also held during the forum, giving local community leaders a chance to exchange ideas and suggestions while also allowing managers and funders to connect with each other in person.
The main message from presentations by ECF coordinators and managers in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, was that momentum is growing in each of the three eco-corridors. Communities that took park in the Financial Participatory Approach (FPA) used the money provided for community improvement projects like street lighting, road maintenance and the purchase of farming equipment.
As land-use management practices are being set into motion, communities are able to experience the fact that conservation measures don’t have to mean a loss of local income – that in fact, the coexistence with threatened wildlife species and proper land-use management can lead to more efficient farming, better crop yields and different opportunities for income, such as eco-tourism.
Following the ECF forum, the annual region meeting for the Technical Joint Secretariat (TJS) was held in the same conference room with many of the same participants attending both meetings.
Once the ECF-related activities had been completed, the ECF team took the opportunity to do a field visit to the Adigeni region of Georgia, to one of the participating communities in the Western Lesser Caucasus Eco-Corridor. More details on this field visit to be posted soon.