The site covers the entire eastern part of the Greater Caucasus in Georgia. Natural landscapes vary from riparian forests to high mountain peaks with glaciers. Lakes are found in the alpine zone of Lagodekhi Nature Reserve. The forests are predominantly deciduous, with tree species such as Fagus,Betula, Quercus, Carpinus, Castanea, also Tilia, Populus and some Pinus; Hippophae occurs along streams. Geologically, the site is mainly made up of Jurassic slates, sandstone, conglomerates and clay with Cretaceous sediments. The eastern part of the site is well cultivated. The site encompasses Lagodekhi (site SU069 in the previous pan-European IBA inventory: Grimmett and Jones 1989).
The site is of global importance for Caucasian endemic birds such as Tetraogallus caucasicus, whose entire population is restricted to the Great Caucasus range, and for near-endemics such as Tetrao mlokosiewiczi and Phylloscopus lorenzii, both of which occur in the Little and Great Caucasus ranges. The site supports seven out of the 10 species in Europe that are restricted (when breeding) to the Eurasian high-montane biomea higher species complement than any other site on the continent. The site is also of European importance for its numbers of Gypaetus barbatus and Phoenicurus erythrogaster, and is nationally important as a wintering ground for various forest birds, as well as for Phalacrocorax pygmeus and Egretta alba, being also one of the most important sites in the country for Aquila chrysaetos and Dendrocopos medius. Species of global conservation concern that do not meet IBA criteria: Branta ruficollis (occurs on passage), Haliaeetus albicilla (possibly 1 breeding pair), Aegypiusmonachus (status uncertain; possibly breeds), Circus macrourus (winter). Other breeding raptors include Neophron percnopterus (16 pairs), Gyps fulvus (35 pairs) and seven species of owl; the status of Accipiter brevipes (reported from Lagodekhi) is uncertain. Grus grus and Anthropoides virgo pass through on migration and among typical mountain passerines at the site are Eremophila alpestris, Ptyonoprogne rupestris, Anthus spinoletta, Monticola saxatilis and Serinus pusillus.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The main threats are habitat destruction: lowland forests, including the Alazani riparian forest, are threatened by logging and firewood collection, while mountain forests are being overgrazed by domestic sheep. Racoon-dog Procyon lotor, introduced into Azerbaijan, has spread into the Alazani forests of Georgia and has begun to prey on Phasianus colchicus and their eggs. The outline of the site is about the same as that of the proposed East Caucasus Protected Area, part of the protected-area system which is now being established in Georgia. A management plan exists for this site.
National Partial International None16,297 ha of IBA covered by Nature Reserve (Zapovednik) (Akhmeta, 16,297 ha). 8,707 ha of IBA covered by Nature Reserve (Zapovednik) (Kazbegi, 8,707 ha). 17,818 ha of IBA covered by Nature Reserve (Zapovednik) (Lagodekhi, 17,818 ha).
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Eastern Caucasus. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 10/08/2022.