Biology and Life Sciences
Received: 02 Nov 2019 , Published: 04 November 2019
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Mountain forest landscapes are important storages of biological diversity, upon which heavily depend local communities, to receive ecosystem services that are fundamental for living, including fuel, food, and clean water. Mountain forests also provide environmental goods and services such as carbon storage and non-wood forest products. Ecosystem services are the benefits people obtain from ecosystems, and their change influence human well-being. Fragile vegetation cover makes mountain areas vulnerable to environmental degradation. Mountain landscapes are amongst the most vulnerable areas to climate change. Georgia is amongst the fifteen most mountainous countries of the world, where climate change and natural hazards are causes of environmental degradation. Communities of the Central Caucasus largely depend on the services provided by the forest ecosystems. Our study area, Lower Racha, is part of the Caucasus ecoregion. The Caucasus is also recognized as one of the biodiversity hotspots of the world out of twenty-five. Some dominant tree species of Lower Racha are incorporated into the data of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Even though the natural forest cover is still present in the study area, there are climate-driven problems of forest land degradation and also overlapped land-use interests, which require the application of the holistic approach in nature conservation and community development. In line with this, the maps of forest types and forest species by communities, which are represented in the paper, can be useful instruments and additional sources of information for strategic decision making.
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