Ecotourism in Azerbaijan

Ecotourism in Azerbaijan


Azerbaijan enjoys extremely diverse nature. The natural and geographical conditions here have provided for the occurrence of diverse flora and fauna species. Of the 11climate zones 9 are found in Azerbaijan. This has played indispensable role in the formation of the country's rich biodiversity. 4500 higher plant species occur in Azerbaijan which accounts for 64% of the Caucasus species composition. 240 of them are endemics and relicts.140 rare and endangered species have been listed in the Red Data Book of Azerbaijan. The fauna of Azerbaijan is represented by 99 mammal, 360 bird, 54 reptiles, 9 amphibian, 14 thousand insect and 123 fish species. 108 of them are listed in the Red Data Book of Azerbaijan.The first nature reserve areas to protect an amazing nature of Azerbaijan were established in 30s of the last century in Goygol, Zagatala, and Gizilaghaj. The adoption of the Law on the Protection of the Nature of Azerbaijan in 1969 has promoted the growth in the number of reserves. In a short while after that date six other specially protected sites, namely Shirvan, Bastichay, Garayazi, Aggol, Ismayilli, Ilisu, and Altiagaj state nature reserves were created. Until 2003 the overall area of specially protected sites was 478 thousand hectares constituting 5% of the country's area. In the course of 2003 and 2008 the area of protected nature sites has been extended by almost 748402,7 thousand hectares. The total area of 8 National Parks is 265 thousand hectare. At present there are 12 state nature reserves with a total area of until 200 thousand hectares of the country's territory and 21 sanctuaries with a total area of 285, 8 thousand hectares which encompass major ecosystems. In Azerbaijan for the first time, mud volcano state nature reserve was established in 2007. It has always been a challenge to ensure a proper balance in the relations between humans and nature.The establishment of national parks is one of the solutions to this issue of concern as they can ensure the very optimal form of harmless communication between human beings and nature and make it possible to benefit from nature through its conservation. We identify our mission with creating a well-expanded network of national parks and ensuring that solicitous attitude to every single element of nature becomes an integral part of people's mind as a firmly accepted notion of a way of life. Azerbaijan has been taking its first steps in this direction and this is a new trend for our country and citizens. The first national park Shirvan was opened in 2003. The eighths Goy gol national Park was established. April 1, 2008. resently, the overall area of specially protected sites in Azerbaijan including national parks constitutes 8.5% of the county's area. The overall area of the established national parks in Azerbaijan is 246, 3 thousand hectares comprising eight national parks- Shirvan, Ordubad, Aggol, Hirkan, Altiagaj, Absheron, Shahdag and Goy gol. (The forthcoming creation of the Shahdag National Park to protect the ecosystem of the Greater Caucasus mountain range, Samur-Yalama National Park encompassing part of the Caspian Sea to the north of the country as well as and creation of new National Parks are intended. Azerbaijan also enjoys vast tourism opportunities. This is provided by its great history, well-developed culture and diverse nature. There are favorable conditions for the development of new tourism services in Azerbaijan along with available traditional tourism opportunities. The future of national parks in Azerbaijan is seen in the development of ecotourism which is part of sustainable development process. As a new form of tourism, ecotourism has been addressed in National Programme on Environmentally Sustainable Social- Economic Development which has been prepared by Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources and approved by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. In this document the development and management of tourism infrastructure based on a minimum negative impact on the environment and sustainable development principles is taken as the main criterion. The commencement of the 2003 pre-election campaign by the President from opening of Shirvan National Park is the symbolic evidence of the chosen development strategy of our Republic that is based on environmentally sustain  able development principles. It is hardly possible to solve all the problems linked to the creation of National Parks by efforts of government bodies only. It is important that all layers of the society take part in this undertaking. One of the priorities in the involvement of public in this process is the increase in environmental awareness and development of personal attitude to the issue of nature conservation. The main purpose of the development of ecotourism in national parks isto bring awareness about environmental problems by demonstrating to public rare and unique representatives of landscapes, flora and fauna. Assistance from the government, international organizations and public is resupposed at the very initial stage of the national parks' velopment. Nevertheless, in the nearest future we expect that national parks will evolve into a self-sufficient system enabling local communities to meet their livelihood needs through roviding products representing natural and cultural features of the geographical area without causing any harm to the environment as well as through offering the opportunity and services to get familiar with nature while maintaining its usual mode of existence and development.

May 12, 2021 16:40
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