Lying on Tertiary sediments and volcanic bedrock, this site represents a intermediate zone between the humid `kolkheti' of western Georgia and the dry mountain ranges of Anatolia (Turkey) and northern Iran. It abounds in relict and endemic species. The site includes the gorges of the Mtkvari (Kura) and Paravani rivers in southern Georgia.
The avifauna includes at least two of the 10 species in Europe that are restricted (when breeding) to the Eurasian high-montane biome. The site is of great significance for raptors, with at least 32 species recorded, and is one of the most important in the country for breeding species, notably Hieraaetus pennatus, Gyps fulvus (46 pairs in 1996) and others. There have been two recent records of Hieraaetus fasciatus (status uncertain). The site is an important migration bottleneck for raptors, some of which actually stage at the site rather than just passing through; species include Circaetus gallicus (common), Pernis apivorus, Milvus migrans, harriers Circus, Accipiter gentilis, Accipiter nisus, Accipiter brevipes, Aquila pomarina (frequent), Aquila nipalensis, Falco columbarius and Falco cherrug. Species of global conservation concern that do not meet IBA criteria: Circus macrourus (frequent on passage).
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The main threat is unsustainable hunting. A large part of the site's area is covered by the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park and the proposed Erusheti Protected Area, part of Georgia's protected-area system which is now being established, as is Javakheti Ramsar Site, Georgia's second site with this protection status. A management plan exists for this site.
National Partial International None17,948 ha of IBA covered by Nature Reserve (Zapovednik) (Borjomi, 17,948 ha). 50,000 ha of IBA covered by National Park (Borjomi-Kharagauli, 50,400 ha).
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Meskheti. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 29/03/2023.