Invasive Alien Species Observatory and Network
Development for the Assessment of Climate Change
Impacts in Black Sea Deltaic Protected Areas
Project Code: BSB-1121
Info-Day Meeting held on April 23 2021
Deliverable D.C.3.1 Info-days
PP6 – International Business
and Economic Development
Partner 6, IBEDC from Georgia, organized and held the Info-day on April 23, 2021 (Tbilisi, Georgia)
Due to Covid 19 restrictions, Zoom platform meeting was held on 23th of April, 2021. Objective of the meeting was to present info on the project implementation to the stakeholders and beneficiaries. The Info-day aimed at informing local communities and stakeholders about the initiatives and goals of the project, prospects for environmental and socio-economic impact of IAS and the functions of the Observatory. Also the contribution on sharing the experience was the main massage for the meeting attendants. The Info-day was attended by up to 30 representatives of stakeholders from various institutions and organizations of Georgia. Various spectrums of invited persons were introduced: Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia (Biodiversity and Forestry Department), Agency of Protected Areas, National Environmental Agency (Department of Fishery, Aquaculture and Water Biodiversity), Environmental NGO’s, Universities, General Public lived in the target region etc.
Introductory speech was presented by the Project Coordinator of the International Business and Economic Development Center, David Tsiskaridze. He greeted the attendants and briefly described the project overview, project partners, target regions, project objectives, project activities and main deliverables to be resulted. He emphasized the importance of adoption of the law on Biodiversity in time in terms of requirements of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement. David has moderated info day event as well.
David Bujiashvili-Head of EU Assistance and Sectorial Coordination Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia – underlined the importance of the project in terms of direct connection to the EU-Georgia Association Agreement, drafting the Law on Biodiversity to be harmonized with EU standards and their priorities. Ministry’s representative announced the initiatives of pending projects being under the umbrella of EU Green Deal aiming at decreasing the 50% of harmful emissions to 2030.
Nona Khelaia- Head of the Biodiversity Directorate of the Biodiversity and Forestry Department of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia – expressed her appreciation regarding the project necessity in dealing with invasive species causing the danger on the local environment and global changes as well. Based on the Convention of Biodiversity, five threats have been identified including: Habitats’ degradation, overusing the natural resources, pollution, invasive species and climate changes. Therefor implementation of the project would be beneficial to the biodiversity conversation.
Nata Sultanishvili – Head of Planning and Developing Department of the Agency of Protected Areas – highlighted significance of unique species distributed in Georgia and advantage of the project in protecting the local ecosystem. Totally, there are 93 protected areas in Georgia with different status: State Nature Reserves, National Parks, Natural Monuments, Wildlife Refuges and Protected Landscapes. Whole area of Protected Areas is 793 000ha sharing 11.5% of the entire country land.
Marina Mgeladze - Acting Head of the Department of Fishery, Aquaculture and Water Biodiversity of National Environmental Agency – confirmed the project’s contribution into the invasive species identification and monitoring implementation. The main input of the project would be the raise awareness on invasive species being low to some extent within the local communities. She pointed out the negative impact of Mnemiopsis Leidyi on the Black Sea ecosystem and its results.
Detailed presentation on implemented, ongoing and envisaged activities within the project was floored by the Junior expert of the project Guranda Makharadze. She summarized content of project activities, results and future expectations. The first action was undertaken in October-November, 2020 related to the literature review around the listed invasive species of the project. Publications about negative impacts of invasive species on forestry, meadow, mires, and inland waters’ and Black Sea ecosystems were reviewed. Also harmful effect on human activities was assessed during the speech. Expert went through several national and international regulations. The second stage of the project implementation was Climate Change Overview (December, 2020) pointing out the long-term scenario of dramatic conditions envisaged in the future. Presentation was followed by the Assessment of Invasive Species and Preparing the Report developed in February 2021. In March experts kept working on General Protocol of Invasive Species and Expected Risks Assessment being consulted with competent persons. In fact, five IAS were selected for the protocol evaluation: two plants and three animals.
IBEDC is responsible partner for A.T1.2-Collection and Management of Information on IAS from Stakeholder, within this deliverable we have developed Methodology of Stakeholders Survey, Methodology of Stakeholders Identification and three types of questionnaires for 1)Professional-National/Regional Authorities, Research and Education Institutions, Environmental NGO's; 2) Local Public Authorities, NGO's(General) and representatives of Business Milieu and 3) General Public (for the general public-population in the areas in order to measure the impact on local communities in target areas of the study). Questionnaire was set out and disseminated amongst stakeholders during April, 2021.
The Methodology is developed within activity A.T.1.2. - Collection and management of information on IAS from stakeholder by the responsible Georgian partner PP5 - International Business and Economic Development Center. It is related to project’s specific objective SO3 - Improve cooperation on IAS monitoring through the involvement of the public at various levels of the project and to the main result aiming at a cross-border collaboration and exchange of information from developing and implementing information and communication activities, at all levels of society (education, managers, policy makers, local community).
Reasonably useful feedbacks were obtained from the respondents and appropriate Sum ups were prepared consequently. Additional invasive species apart of suggested list were recommended. At the time of Info Day, Leaflets and Banner of project activities have been produced and presented to the audience.
Zurab Manvelidze – Botanist introduced the historical estimation of invasive species, their impact and nature of surveys developed in Batumi Botanical Garden. He mentioned that invasive species assessments had already been implementing within the protected areas of Ajara including Kolkheti National Park being a part of Kolkheti Lowland. As for Chorokhi Delta, during Soviet Periods Military Polygon was arranged on the area and any of scientific surveys were prohibited. Nevertheless that the area is very important for flora and fauna biodiversity point of view, still there are some unkind ongoing processes related to the overloaded traffic of heavy machines and obtaining the inert materials off the river bed. Consequently, starting the surveys of invasive species would profit development of relevant database and set out mitigation measures. Common methodologies of surveys would contribute to enhance trans boundary interaction and maintain joint approach.
Irakli Mikeladze – Scientist of Batumi Shota Rustaveli State University – presented the routes of distribution of invasive plant species alongside the Black Sea and their negative influence on the local environment.
Manana Chikovani – Consultant of the Kolkheti National Park – overviewed the most disseminated plant invasive species within the protected area, historical outline of their distribution and harmful impact. Monitoring results on coverage areas of invasive species gotten in 2019 in comparison with previous years (data 2017) has been increased. Apart of some dramatic conditions, kind of envisioned projects are planned contributing various mitigation measures to be implemented.
Ramaz Mikeladze – Ichtiologist, Department of Fishery, Aquaculture and Water Biodiversity – floored the fish invasive species within the Kolkheti lowland inland waters and river tributaries. Owing the climate changes (increasing the water temperature) some deviations have been noticed in water ecosystems. More specifically it’s obvious in terms of salinity of estuaries due to artificial establishment of hydrological regime caused by hydropower plants (river water inundation). This would definitely reflect on local living resources of water ecosystem and assist to attract invasive species fitted to the new environment. He underlined serious adverse impacts of fish invasiveness on indigenous species.
Izolda Machutazde – Scientist, Batumi Shota Rustaveli State University – Introduced the presentation on the Invasive alien plant species of Kolkheti Lowland. Being a region of global importance for biodiversity conservation due to distribution of unique mires and relict forests, it is considered as a center of biodiversity on the transition of Europe and Asia. Process of invasiveness started in 19th century when German, English, French and Belgian ships entered the Batumi Sea Port. Most of the invasive plant species are growing in drained areas being under the highest impact of human activities. Scientist relied on inventory (number and relative frequency) and mapping of invasive plant species and deciding the most dangerous species to be certain.
Emzar Gordadze – Professor of Kutaisi Akaki Tsereteli State University – highlighted the project’s consequence in aiming the biodiversity conservation. He floored the presentation on invasive fauna species (including insect) causing irreversible damaging influence on both of environment and socio-economic aspects. They deteriorated agricultural farmlands of fruits and vegetables such as hazelnuts, grapes, potatoes, tomatoes, corn etc.
Finally, questions were raised amongst audience regarding: the selection of invasive species, wording and meaning of the invasiveness, list of the most harmful invasive species, updating status of invasive species, mitigation measures and recommendations, climate changes directly connected to Covid19 and others. Particular discussion was opened up on joint approach to the selection of invasive species and monitoring methods. Experts shared their experiences and feedback to each other and accorded for the upcoming cooperation.
Information about the event was posted on the website of the IBEDC, Georgia www.ibedc.ge