Implementing Sustainability Practices in Javakheti-Highlands of Georgia

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With the political transformation in the former Soviet republics of Minor and Central Asia, a fundamental socio-economic reorganisation took place. Within this process ecological and economic claims often stand in contradiction to each other. As the access to natural resources as well as strategies of securing livelihood have changed and receive new significance and awareness, new challenges for the local ecosystems and their biodiversity arise. In particular, in the high mountains areas of the crisis-ridden Caucasus region the degradation and transformation of sensitive alpine steppe ecosystems is proceeding rapidly, mainly due to unregulated pasturing (Williams et al., 2011) and climate change.1 Thus, the challenge of the following decades will be to elaborate ways for sustainable regional futures, especially land-use, that are flexible enough to adapt to the new socio-economic situation and the changing environmental conditions n in the region. In transforming this challenge into sustainable action, the common perception of “sustainability” among all stakeholders is seen as a key. In order to adequately face complex problems of global change, the knowledge of a single discipline is not far reaching enough. Therefore an integrative, interdisciplinary approach is essential. But of course proposal on sustainable future processes such as land-use management are only applicable by considering local knowledge and needs, as well as local identities. It is urgently needed to discuss applicable concepts of sustainability within the conflicting priorities of cultural/social and natural scientific approaches. Aim of the following chapter is to address theoretical and practical challenges researchers face with transformative types of... ... middle of paper ... ... resources to protect against extreme weather events and other adverse consequences of global change.“ (Singer, 2011: 7) The anthropological part of the project in particular is based on the elaboration of different forms of local knowledge through participatory work with community members to jointly produce vision and practice in regional sustainability. A local notion of life worlds, strategies and prospective options for action implies a joint perception of “sustainability”, and indicates the reason for working on this issue as one of the first research steps. To summarise, the described research setting leads to “sustainability” being our central concern and key component of the project (aim). Furthermore, a joint notion of sustainability is seen as common ground and thus prerequisite for successful cooperation with all actors involved (internal and external).

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