Georgia: Minister of Environment Protection and Agriculture Otar Shamugia together with Kakheti State Representative Irakli Shioshvili met with rangers in Lagodekhi protected areas.
Lagodekhi Protected Areas are the first protected areas in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Georgia.
110 years ago, in 1912, the first protected area in Georgia – Lagodekhi Nature Reserve, was established, with an area of only 3,500 hectares. Today, there are 94 protected areas in Georgia, with a total area of 800,000 ha, which is 11.5% of the country’s territory.
“We can boldly say that we have been protecting nature for 110 years. Lagodekhi Nature Reserve is a unique protected area. It is with its creation that the history and development of protected areas in Georgia begins. It is very important for the protection and preservation of our nature, and the state constantly takes care that the rangers have the appropriate equipment, have the appropriate conditions, “- said the Minister of Environment and Agriculture, Otar Shamugia.
According to the Minister, this year, the area of protected areas will increase by about 100,000 hectares and will reach about 900,000 hectares. At the same time, important measures will be taken to develop the infrastructure.
“In recent years, about 170 million GEL has been invested in infrastructure; Across the protected areas, approximately 1,000 km of trails are planned for the next two years, for which approximately GEL 35 million will be allocated from the budget. All this allows us to attract more visitors, which, in turn, will help improve the social situation of the local population,” – said Otar Shamugia.
It should be noted that today a total of 400 rangers protect the protected areas of Georgia. Rangers protect Georgia’s unique natural heritage at the risk of their own lives.
In accordance with the unified policy developed by the Government of Georgia and the Ministry of Environment and Agriculture, and with the financial support of donor organizations, the state constantly takes care of the rangers. The working conditions of the rangers are improving every year.
Their salaries are gradually increasing; they are steadily provided with a salary supplement, and their social insurance packages and work outfits have been changed and improved.
The area of Lagodekhi Protected Areas currently stands at 24,255 ha, of which 17,000 ha is pristine and primary forest and includes the Lagodekhi State Reserve and the Lagodekhi Reserve.
Tourist routes in Lagodekhi Protected Areas are equipped with marked paths, tourist cottages, campsites, picnics and other necessary infrastructure.
The development of ecotourism in the protected areas of Lagodekhi continues. This year it is planned to arrange a network of 150 km of hiking trails with accompanying recreational infrastructure.