CIVICS/Lake Arpi & Samtskhe-Javakheti twinning nation park
The establishment of Lake Arpi and Samtskhe-Javakheti national park were part of the Caucasus Initiative of the German Ministry of Cooperation and Development (BMZ), with focus on biodiversity conservation in the Caucasus and a promotion of transboundary cooperation for biodiversity conservation as a common project of Georgia and Armenia. Regarding an assessment of 2003, Georgia and Armenia agreed on conservation efforts, which are financially supported by Germany through the Bank for Reconstruction and Development on the transboundary Javakheti - Lake Arpi Conservation Area. The target area is located on the border region of Armenia, Georgia and Turkey. The main target is the establishment of a national park and wetland conservation area on both sides of the Georgian - Armenian border as well as the sustainable development of the respective support zones. The project to establish Lake Arpi - Samtskhe-Javakheti national park was launched in September 2007 and implemented by the WWF under the auspices of Armenia’s and Georgia’s Ministry of Nature Protection. Boundaries of Lake Arpi national park were confirmed by the Government of the Republic of Armenia on the 16th of April 2009 and while borders of the Samtskhe-Javakehti national park were still not clarified at this time. Both national parks are located on the Javakheti plateau, which is known for migratory birds. Over 140 bird species have been recorded for the area. 80-85 of this species are known to nest in the target area. The other species are summer visitors, migrants or under an unclear status. Most bird species are related to the lakes and wetlands. The plateau is one of the few regions of the Caucasus where breeding common crane (Grus grus), white stork (Ciconia ciconia), grey heron (Ardea cinerea), various pelicans and velvet scoter (Melanitta fusca) can be found. Seven of the here living species are globally endangered. Almost 40 species of mammals, including 2 species of ungulates and 10 species of carnivores can be found in the region. Ungulates, lynx and bear, can just rarely be observed at these open spaces but wolf (Canis lupus), marbled polecat (Vormela peregusna), European hare (Lepus europaeus), European otter (Lutra lutra), European badger (Meles meles) and fox (Vulpes vulpes) are more frequent. Six of the mammal species are endemic in the Caucasus. These are the Nehring’s blind mole rat (Nannospalax nehringi), the Turkish hamster (Mesocricetus brandti), the Nazarov pine vole (Terricola nasarovi), the Daghestan pine vole (Terricola daghestanicus), the Transcaucasian water shrew (Neomys teres) and the Caucasian shrew (Sorex satunini Ognev). Furthermore, 13 species of reptiles and amphibians can be found on the Javakheti Plateau. Of these the Darevsky’s viper (Vipera darevskii), a live birth giving snake is endemic for the Caucasus.