Tentative world heritage site
Mta-Tusheti, a small historic geographic region in the Eastern Georgia located on the northern slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountains, covers the area of approximately 796 sq. km. It is one of the most ecologically unspoiled regions in Caucasus. Mta-Tusheti vernacular architecture in general and fortress-like residential buildings in particular represents special interest in terms of their unique and distinctive architectural forms. This region is remarkable for the extraordinary beauty of its alpine landscapes and represents the greatest importance as a habitat of numerous rare and endemic animal and vegetative species.
Forest belt with its upper part is represented by the sub-belts of Pinus sosnowskyi and Betula litwinowii, from 1650 meters to 1800-1900 meters above the sea level. Sub-alpine belt goes higher (up to 2500-2550 meters a. s. l.), where the forest vegetation is represented by the same formations. Pinus sosnowskyi are featured by geo-botanical diversity. Here the large group of associations is represented, among which the typical Northern (boreal) associations as well as the associations peculiar to the Caucasus pinous associations, are noted. Birch forests dominate on the Northern slopes and the slopes of the exposition transient to North. The birch forests are represented by the two association groups: Rhododendron caucasicum and Betuleta herbosa. In subalpine and alpine zones the meadows (hayfields and pastures), also those of Rhododendron caucasicum are widely spread. Above 2300 meters (Sub-alps, Alps) primary high mountain meadows and Rhododendron caucasicum are spread. On the slopes of Northern exposition in Sub-alps (also the upper sub-zone of forest zone) the Juniperus oblonga, J. Depressa, J. Sabina are spread. High grass is found in form of small areas and fragments on the slopes of Northern exposition, flatness, and hollows. High grass of Tusheti is totally deprived of Kolkhetian species such as Heracleum sosnowskyi, Telekia speciosa, Aconitum orientale, Senecio rhombifolius, Veratrum lobelianum and others. Highland meadows are phitocenologically diverse. Especially widespread are Nardus glabriculmis, Festuca varia, Alchimilla sp., Sibbaldia parviflora, Carex tristis medows. In subniveal zone (3000 meters above the sea level) the open cenoses are found (vegetation of rocky places and scree vegetation), while in relatively favourable conditions we can see small areas and fragments of Alpine meadow (Festuca varia, Colpodium variegatum, Sibbaldia semiglabra, Veronica minuta, Cerastium purpuraglens and others).
From mammals found here, the Front-Asian panther is notable. From the Bovidae family, Capra cylindricornis and Rupicapra rupicapra caucasica are found here, the number of which is being reduced in the whole Caucasus. From other hoofed animals, roe deer and wild boar are found here. From other beasts of prey, apart from Front-Asian panther, there are lynx, wild cat, and wolf. From other predators, endangered Lutra lutra meridionalis is notable. From bird species, Gypaettus Caucasian endemic species are notable: Tetrao mlokosiewiczi, and Tetraogalus caucasica. From amphibians Vipera kaznakovi Caucasian endemic specie is notable.