EXPLORE the Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands with this slideshow, check the location map and get all the facts and information below.
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Location and Values: The Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands are located along the south-eastern shores of the Black Sea in the west of Georgia. The site comprises seven component parts, up to 80 km from each other, covering a full range of typical ecosystems from sea level to elevations of 2,500m. It includes some outstandingly complex and diverse forests, percolation bogs, fens and waterways. The largest component (Kintrishi-Mtirala, a mountainous area of 201 km2) is dominated by warm temperate rainforest communities with species-rich evergreen understories at elevations of 250 to 2,750m. The other components are smaller (mostly wetland) sites along the coastal lowlands. Their fauna and flora includes a high proportion of endemic species and the coastal wetlands serve as critical stop-over locations for birds on migration.
Colchic rainforests are found around the south-eastern shores of the Black Sea in Georgia and Turkey with similar Euxine rainforests extending further west as far as Bulgaria. Together with the Hyrcanian Forests (that lie to the south of the Caspian Sea, also world heritage listed) they were the most important refuge areas in western Eurasia for the survival of species during the Pleistocene glacial cycles, and have experienced exceptionally constant climatic conditions over at least 10-15 million years. This explains their exceptional biodiversity values with 1,100 plant, 67 mammal, 15 reptile, 10 amphibian, 55 fish and 327 bird species recorded within the Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands site. Of these, 82 species of plants and 33 vertebrates are endemic, while 19 species are recognized as threatened. The fauna includes several iconic large mammals such as European brown bear, grey wolf and European lynx.
Conservation Status and Prospects. According to IUCN’s evaluation of the nomination for the Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands the component parts of the site have been carefully selected to include only areas that demonstrate intact habitat structures and ecological characteristics. Many areas of the Colchic rainforests and wetlands have been lost to other land uses or seriously degraded in recent years and the world heritage site covers most of the remaining wetlands as well as the best preserved and most representative rainforests. IUCN notes that some of the site’s wetland areas were slightly degraded by drainage of adjacent areas in the past, but their ecological integrity and resilience is considered to be satisfactory and sustainable in the long-term.
Official UNESCO Site Details
IUCN Conservation Outlook
UNEP-WCMC Site Description
The slideshow ‘tells the story’ of the Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands with a portfolio of photos that illustrate the site’s landscape features and some of its typical plants and animals. It starts in the Kintrishi-Mtirala National Park component and shows the main features of the Colchic rainforest with its dense temperate forests at lower elevations. Here there are waterfalls, abandoned wooden buildings in forest clearings, visitor interpretation panels and accommodation, while alpine meadows, thickets and a lake are features of higher elevations above the treeline. Some of the important large mammals are shown, including European lynx, European brown bear and grey wolf. The final part of the slideshow covers the largest of the wetland sites in the coastal lowlands, the Kolkheti-Imnati component.
Most of the photos are provided by Paata Vardanashvili while the following other Flickr photographers are acknowledged with thanks for their contributions to this slideshow (as credited in the watermark of each photo): Arthur Barys, Sea Soul Bata, Egle Lug, hkinuthia, Johannes Jansen, Nastya Maunova, naturgucker.de, Pierre Lano, Tai-Pan of HK, Thiery, Christian Fiderer, jc50d, Arne von Brill and Yury Shashev. Note that some of the close-up photos of animals are from other locations and may vary slightly in appearance from individuals in the Colchic rainforests.
UNESCO Criteria (Proposed):
- Ecological processes (ix);
- Natural habitat for biodiversity (x);
- Significant number of rare, endemic and/or endangered species (x)