Restoring Gallery Forest and Grasslands in the Iori River Valley
The Iori River, and the gallery forest which stretches along the valley, are integral parts of South East Georgia’s steppe ecosystem. The river shapes the dynamics of the landscape by creating periodic wetlands and transporting nutrients from the mountains to the lowlands. The gallery forest, which runs along the Iori riverbed, acts as a wildlife corridor, providing breeding sites and core habitat for many species. The steppe areas have been subjected to over-stocking with livestock, causing overgrazing, erosion and competition with native herbivores. Despite this degradation, the landscape is relatively intact, and connectivity to other areas in the Caucasus Biodiversity Hotspot creates an opportunity for restoration. A newly launched landscape restoration project will revitalise this steppe-riverine ecosystem, while enabling local pastoralists to manage the land sustainably in the long-term.