Lake Ritsa and the wooded slopes (forest predominantly of Abies and Fagus) surrounding it on the southern spurs of the Great Caucasus range. There are also small areas of meadows, and deep river gorges.
The avifauna includes at least two of the 10 species in Europe that are restricted (when breeding) to the Eurasian high-montane biome. A total of 110 species was recorded at the site in the early 1980s; at least 69 species breed, including Gypaetus barbatus, Gypsfulvus, Aquila chrysaetos, Falco peregrinus, Bubo bubo and other owls, as well as woodpeckers. Predominant in the subalpine zone are Anthus spinoletta, Carduelis flavirostris and Carpodacus erythrinus. Species of global conservation concern that do not meet IBA criteria: Aegypius monachus (occurs).
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The main threat is the impact of tourists on Lake Ritsa and its environs. The site was first designated as a Zapovednik in 1930. It lies within the proposed Abkhazeti Protected Area, part of the Georgian protected-area system whose establishment is now under way.
National High International None16,289 ha of IBA covered by Nature Reserve (Zapovednik) (Ritsa, 16,289 ha).
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Ritsa. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 22/03/2023.