CIVICS/Javakheti Case Study
Within the CIVICS project on Socio-economic tools for Integrated Conservation Planning in Multu-ethic South Caucasus, one of the case studies is carried out in the Javakheti region.
The town of Akhalkalaki has a population of 14,600 (when?) and is situated on the Akhlkalaki volcanic plateau at an elevation of 1700 m above sea level.
The district has an area of 1235 km2 at a population of 62,300 (when?) (population density: 49 inhabitants/km2).
Ninotsminda district – Town Ninotsminda with the population of 6000 issituated on the elevation of 1940m above sea level.
History of Javakheti
Javakheti was an important part of the of Kartli Kingdom of Kartli. In the 11th century Akhalkalaki became the center of upper Javakheti, and Tmogvi the center of lower Javakheti. Under the Georgian Kingdom (11th-13th centuries), bridges, churches, monasteries, and royal residences (Lgivi, Ghrtila, Bozhano, Vardzia) were constructed. From the 13th century, Javakheti included the territories of Palakatsio (modern Turkey) and part of Meskheti. In the 15th century, Javakheti was governed by Samtskhe-Saabatago. In the 16th century, it became part of the Ottoman Empire. The Georgian population of Javakheti was displaced to inner regions of Georgia - part to Imereti, and another to Kartli. Those who remained in the place became Muslims.
As a result of the struggles of the Russian Empire with the Ottomans, Russian authorities settled Christian Armenians and Greeks in the area after 1828. Armenian refugees from the genocide in the Ottoman Empire came in the early 20th century. Also a large number of Russian Doukhobor sect members settled the region.
Akhalkalaki was founded in 1064. Soon the city was destroyed in invasions of the of Georgia. In the 11th century Akhalkalaki became a political and economical centre of Javakheti. Under Ottoman rule, the city became a sanjak centre in Province, Ottoman Empire|Çıldır Eyaleti. The town was known as "Ahılkelek". After the War (1828–1829)|Russo-Turkish War in 1828–1829 the city became part of the Russian Empire. Georgian Muslims were deported to Turkey and Armenians were settled down from the Vilayet Vilayet of Erzurum].
The region of Samtskhe-Javakheti is located in the south-western part of Georgia. The national park lies on a height of 1900 to 3300 m above sea-level, the whole region is formed by soft, volcanic forms, cones and clicker flows, high mountain meadows and steppes on mountain plateaus and slopes as well as lakes of volcanic origin. Six middle sized natural lakes and 60 small lakes are spread over the entire area with a total surface of 96 km². The Javakheti highland takes the second place in Georgia by concentration of wetland areas and is one of the most important reception basin in Georgia. Like Lake Arpi, the region of Samtskhe-Javakheti has a harsh, mainly continental climate, with temperature between -10 and +15°C. In winter period, the lakes are covered with 30-35 cm of ice. The yearly annual precipitation level varies between 600 and 700 mm. At the region, little sub-alpine forests can be found at 1,800-2,100 m above sea level, east to Kartsakhi Lake, at the northern slope of Childir Range. Birch (Betula litwinowii), aspen (Populus tremula) and rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) form the forests. At the upper edge of sub-alpine forests, (2000 – 2100 m above sea level) pines (Pinus kochiana) can be found.
People of the buffer zone
10 villages with 1732 households are located at the buffer zone of the national park Samtskhe-Javakheti. Traditional activities in Javakheti are animal, partially crop farming and bee-keeping (mostly in the lower eastern part of the region) and the production of related goods. Summer pastures and hayfields are natural resources and traditionally used by locals and farmers coming from other parts of Georgia. Grazing practices in soviet times were non-systemic and still are not today in the region of Javakheti. Like in Lake Arpi, poverty is high in the region. The regions’ infrastructure is weak and the supply of utility grid is poor. In addition prestudy visits have shown, that most families don’t have own cars or a possibility to leave the village for trading or other necessary issues. Also possibilities to work outside agriculture are very limited in the whole region.
- Tbilisi State University opens in 2002 in Akhalkalaki. After 2005 the branch was closed again.