The nature of Georgia is rich and diverse, giving tourists a wide variety of possibilities for rest and recreation. Georgia s nature is protected by national parks and natural reserves - about 7% of Georgia s territory is under protection. The concept of nature protection goes back to the 12th century, when Georgias famous Queen Tamar made a royal decree about protecting some territories. The first official natural reserve was established in the 19th century, and now there are 56 national parks and natural reserves.
First National Park in the Caucasus
The history of protected territories in Georgia dates back to the Medieval Ages when the territories were used by local feudal lords for hunting. The next stage of environmental protection began in the 19th century when Georgia lost its independence and became a part of the Russian Empire. In 1862, the brother of ruling Russian Emperor Mikhail Romanoff was appointed Viceroy of the Russian Empire to Transcaucasia . He was greatly impressed by the beauty of the Borjomi Gorge and decided to build a summer residence there. In 1871, King Alexander II presented Borjomi Gorge to his brother. Soon, Mikhail Romanoff fenced a large part of the forest and forbade felling of trees and hunting without permission. After more than a century of the countrys turbulent history, the implementors of the Borjomi-Kharagauli used the territory established by Mikhail Romanoff as the basis for the first national park in the Caucasus . 1995 Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park was created with the support of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the German Government and was officially inaugurated in 2001.
Today Protected Areas cover 511 123 hectares, which is about 7 % of the countrys territory. About 75 % of Protected Areas are covered by forests.
There are 14 Strict Nature Reserves, 9 National Parks, 17 Managed Nature Reserves, 14 Natural Monuments and 2 Protected Landscapes in Georgia.
The Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park is located in central Georgia and is part of the Caucasian upland region (Smaller Caucasus). The park is one of the largest in Europe - it covers more than 76,000 hectares of native forest and sub-alpine and alpine meadows, home to rare species of flora and fauna.
In 2007 the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park became a member of European network of Protected Areas – Pan Park that is a guarantee for highest level protection of these Protected Areas and sustainable development of tourism.
In addition to the untouched beauty of the National Park, the surrounding villages are rich with medieval history, cottage industries and legendary Georgian hospitality.