racha lechkhumi lower svaneti protected area

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  • Racha Lechkhumi Lower Svaneti Protected Area

Racha-Lechkhumi – Lower Svaneti Planned PAs are located on the southern slope of Main Watershed of the Caucasus, in the territories of Kvemo Svaneti, Lechkhumi and Racha. It extends in the territories of Administration districts of Lentekhi, Tsageri, Ambrolauri and Oni within 500-4600 m above sea level.

Planned area of the Racha-Lechkhumi – Lower Svaneti PAs is 229532 ha and includes following categories: National Park (NP), 12 Natural Monuments (NM), 4 Managed Nature Reserves (MR) and Protected Landscape (PL).

Racha-Lechkhumi – Lower Svaneti NP is a territory of high ecological value with potential of ecotourism development, where the environment protection, environmental education and reasonable usage of natural and historical-cultural resources will be possible simultaneously.

National Park is distinguished by its hilly relief and richness of rocky summits. Climate is subtropical marine type in general. National Park is characterized with deep rivers. Major artery of its hydrographical network is the Rioni River and its main tributary the Tskhenistskali River with its tributaries. Different mountain landscapes are presented on the territory of the National Park that is stipulated by the complex relief and diverse climate conditions.

Among the plants found on the territory of Racha-Lechkhumi – Lower Svaneti PAs 164 species are endemic to Caucasus, 26 – are endemic to Georgia and 5 – are endemic to Racha-Lechkhumi – Lower Svaneti flora, which indicates to the importance of biodiversity of the territories.

Among the species of plants included in the Red List of Georgia the Yew tree (Taxus baccata), Chestnut (Castanea sativa), Imeretian oak (Quercus imeretina), Hophornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia), et al. can be found in the territory of Racha-Lechkhumi – Lower Svaneti National Park.

Fauna of the Racha-Lechkhumi – Lower Svaneti PAs is poorly researched. According to unspecified data in the Racha-Lechkhumi – Lower Svaneti PAs 51 species of mammals and 152 species of birds can be found. From the species included in the Red List of Georgian here inhabit: Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra), Brown Bear (Ursus arctos), Linx (Lynx lynx), et al.

Two species of tur can be found in the upstreams of the Rioni River, the East Caucasian Tur (Capra cylindricornis) and West Caucasian Tur (Capra caucasica). Both species are endemic to Caucasus.

Among birds which can be found on the territory of the NP following representatives of ornithofauna are included in the Red List of Georgia: Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus), Golden Eagle (Aquila crysaetus), Caucasian Black Grouse (Tetrao mlokosiewiczi), et al.

Different species of reptiles, amphibians and fishes are found on the territory of the National Park.

There are many archeological and architectural monuments in the vicinities of the National Park. The closest is St. George church (11th century), towers in the village of Ghebi with the elements featured to the Svanetian tower architecture. In the Tskhenistskali River basin Lekaldi church is remarkable, which is located to the north of the village Kheleda, on the southern slope of the Lekalda Peak (2244 m). The region is important for its rich archeological material as well.

Tourism is important part of economic development of Racha-Lechkhumi – Lower Svaneti region. In this respect, this unique area has full potential for development of different kinds of tourism, such as: alpinism, mountain tourism, ecotourism, et.al.

There are comfortable guest houses in Lentekhi, Tsageri, Ambrolauri and Oni districts. For local tourism and recreation Shovi and Utsera (resorts of Oni district) can be used, where the pensions and hotels are arranged.

Natural Monuments of Racha-Lechkhumi – Lower Svaneti are selected according to their unique physical-geological features, namely, on the basis of peculiarities of plants developed in the karst relief and limestone substrate.

There are 4 Managed Nature Reserves in the Racha-Lechkhumi – Lower Svaneti PAs: Askhi Plateau MR, Khvamli Massif MR, Shaori-Khikhata Managed Nature Reserve and Sadmeli MR. These Managed Nature Reserves are important for their karst caves, plateau-like districts, limestone hillsides and deep erosion canyons.

Racha-Lechkhumi –Lower Svaneti PAs include also the category of Protected Landscape, which is also important for its unique ecological and historical-cultural value.

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