National parks and local populations

Source: The Messenger: By Rezo Getiashvili, 2007-05-10

Georgia has created four National Parks (Borjomi-Kharagauli, Kolkheti, Tusheti and Vashlovani) since 1995. Another one-Mtirala in Adjara-will open this June, and there are plans for several others. So far, so good. However, declaring a National Park is one thing, while making it work effectively-for the protection of nature and for the enjoyment of its visitors-is another. One of the major problems faced by the new parks has been opposition from local communities and traditional resource users (such as livestock tenders or fishermen), who were often not involved in the designation of new National Parks or in the management planning process, and did oppose the new protected areas as a result. Vashlovani National Park is one such example.