As the year ends, I would like to thank you for your support and interest in our work, and share with you some of our successes and future projects.
The CNF Mission
The high mountains, deep forests, and semi-deserts of the South Caucasus boast more life per acre than any of earth’s other temperate climate zones, and scientists recognize this spectacular region as one of only 34 biodiversity hotspots worldwide. National parks and other protected areas (PAs) are fundamental to conservation efforts, which is why CNF is dedicated to ensuring the future of the key parks in the South Caucasus.
Getting There--590,000 Hectares of Wilderness Supported
CNF's work in the region’s key PAs provides funds for essential running costs and equipment. 2013 highlights include:
- Operations. In many sectors in the post-Soviet world, maintenance and facilities management remain foreign concepts. Plans to fix things are not developed until it is too late and they are beyond repair. We are trying to break this cycle by working with the parks to prioritize maintenance.In 2013, in partnership with US Department of the Interior experts, we have piloted a simple facilities maintenance plan for Borjomi Kharargauli National Park in Georgia which next year will serve as a model for our work elsewhere.
- Anti-Poaching. Rangers need to be mobile to stop poaching. CNF ensures mobility by providing both vehicles and horses to the parks. In 2013 CNF bought a total of 10 vehicles to benefit eight of our parks and purchased 18 horses.
- Tourism development.
- In Azerbaijan and Georgia, we completed construction of new tourist bungalows in Shirvan National Park and refurbished existing tourist bungalows in Vashlovani National Park in Georgia. In 2014, CNF partner organizations will begin to reintroduce graceful goitred gazelles from Shirvan, where they are relatively abundant, to Vashlovani, where they have disappeared. So tourists should soon be able to enjoy seeing them in both park.
- In Armenia, we have begun a partnership with the country’s national tourist board and WWF to develop much needed eco-tourism guidelines.
Our tourism and infrastructure work in the PAs is intended to bring eco-tourism and opportunities for local economic development. In Georgia, the only one of the three countries that currently monitors the numbers effectively, more than 320,000 people are expected to visit the country’s PAs in 2013, a 7.5% increase compared to 2012.
In 2013, CNF funds are helping to provide 432 park rangers and staff members with a living wage and essential equipment such as binoculars, cell phones, saddles and uniforms. Park rangers are essential to the protection and sustainable management of the region’s PAs, and CNF is proud to support the men and women working in the national parks and nature reserves of South Caucasus.
This year, in Georgia, with CNF backing, park staff began receiving health, life and accident insurance coverage for the first time. When this transitional program expires at the end of 2014, the government will assume full responsibility for providing these benefits.
The number of rangers we support will increase in 2014 as we expand our portfolio of parks. We will also redouble our efforts to accompany our financial assistance with training and targeted incentives to make their work more effective.
Give 100% to Biodiversity
CNF is a conservation trust fund, and its endowment and long-term funding cover administrative costs and about two thirds of our program. Private donors are the key to permitting us to pursue the final third of our program, and 100% of your gift goes to projects on the ground in the Caucasus.
In addition to expanding the portfolio of parks we support, we will develop a pilot biodiversity monitoring protocol in 2014 so that we can better measure the effects of our work. In coming years, this program will enable us to report to you on the populations of indicator species such as our magnificent leopards, bears, red deer and mountain goats.