Take advantage of the search to browse through the World Heritage Centre information.

Capacity Building
Credibility of the World Heritage ...
Inscriptions on the World Heritage ...
International Assistance
List of World Heritage in Danger
Operational Guidelines
Outstanding Universal Value
Periodic Reporting
Reinforced Monitoring
Tentative Lists
Working methods and tools
World Heritage Convention

Decision 44 COM 8B.8
Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands (Georgia)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Documents WHC/21/44.COM/8B and WHC/21/44.COM/INF.8B2,
  2. Inscribes the Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands, Georgia, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criteria (ix) and (x);
  3. Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:

    Brief synthesis

    The property is situated in Georgia, within the Autonomous Republic of Adjara as well as the regions of Guria and Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti. It comprises a series of seven component parts, which are located close to each other within an 80 km long corridor along the warm-temperate and extremely humid eastern coast of the Black Sea. They provide an almost complete altitudinal series of the most typical Colchic ecosystems running from sea level to more than 2,500 m above sea level. The main ecosystems are ancient deciduous Colchic rainforests and wetlands – particularly percolation bogs and other mire types of the Colchic mire region, a distinct mire region within Europe and Eurasia.

    The Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands are relict forests, which have survived the glacial cycles of the ice age. The extremely humid nemoral broad-leaved rainforests comprise a highly diverse flora and fauna, with very high densities of endemic and relict species. This is the result of millions of years of uninterrupted evolution and speciation processes within the Colchic Pliocene refugium. The peatlands of the Colchis mire region, which are closely interlinked with lowland Colchic rainforests, also reflect the mild and extremely humid conditions there. These allow for the existence of percolation bogs, the simplest functional type of mires, only occurring in the Colchis mire region. In addition to percolation bogs, there is a complete series of other succession stages of mire development in the Colchic wetlands.

    Criterion (ix): The property comprises ancient Colchic rainforests with their characteristic vertical zoning and ecological succession, and wetlands, particularly Colchic mires, with their supporting processes and succession. A unique combination of influences from three mountain ranges to the north, east and south, with the Black Sea to the west, plus high precipitation and a narrow range in seasonal temperature variations results in conditions that have created outstandingly complex and diverse forest structures, peatland accumulations, high levels of endemism and intra species diversity.

    The Colchic rainforests are highly humid temperate deciduous rainforests, and among the oldest nemoral broad-leaved forests globally. While they are distinguished from other temperate forests by their rich evergreen understoreys, they also display a remarkably dense mosaic of forest types, with 23 forest associations co-existing within an area of only about 200 km2. Together with the Hyrcanian Forests, they are the most important relicts of Arcto-Tertiary forests in western Eurasia. This peculiar and diverse community, which has survived the Pleistocene glacial cycles, includes a multitude of relict and endemic species. It reflects exceptionally constant climatic conditions and is an invaluable example of the manifold long-term evolutionary processes of forest biota over at least 10-15 million years.

    The extensive paludified areas along the Black Sea coast are a result of evolutionary and ecological processes related to climate variability in an ancient warm-temperate ecoregion continuously vegetated since the Tertiary period. The exceptional character of the mires has led to the recognition of a distinct Colchis mire region. Their percolation bogs are of particular global importance as they do not exist anywhere else in the world. They can be considered the simplest and hence ideal-typical mire, due to almost permanent water supplied exclusively by precipitation. Percolation bogs are essential for the functional understanding of all mires, and hence of terrestrial carbon storage in general.

    Criterion (x): The property represents a distinctive area of outstanding biodiversity within the wider Caucasus Global Biodiversity Hotspot, where a rich flora and fauna adapted to warm-temperate and extremely humid climate is concentrated. It belongs to one of the two most important refuge areas of Arcto-Tertiary geoflora in western Eurasia. The property is characterized by a high level of floral and faunal diversity with significant numbers of globally threatened species and relict species, which survived the glacial cycles of the Tertiary.

    The property is home to approximately 1,100 species of vascular and non-vascular plants, as well as almost 500 species of vertebrates, and a high number of invertebrate species. It hosts an extremely high proportion of endemic species for a non-tropical, non-island region. There are 149 species of plants with a restricted range and almost one third of mammals, amphibians and reptiles are endemic. The contribution of endemic species to amphibians, reptiles and mammals of the region is at 28%.

    Forty-four globally threatened or near-threatened species of vascular plants, 50 of vertebrates, and 8 of invertebrates have been recorded in the Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands. The property also harbors sturgeon species, including the Colchic Sturgeon, and serves as a key stopover for many globally threatened birds that migrate through the Batumi bottleneck.


    The component parts of the Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands have been selected based on a careful regional analysis. The boundaries of component parts incorporate attributes necessary to convey the Outstanding Universal Value, mostly following natural features such as mountain ridges. The component parts cover most of the existing mires of the Colchis mire region, and the best preserved and most representative rainforests. The property includes more than 90% of the altitudinal range at which Colchic rainforests occur, and the great majority of typical forest associations. They also comprise a complete successional series of the mires characteristic of the Colchis mire region. The property as a whole holds the great majority of the Colchic flora and fauna, and an even greater proportion of the endemic plant species found in the wider region is concentrated here.

    There were significant losses to the Colchic rainforests and mires across the Colchic region until the late 20th Century. In contrast, the forests and mires inside the property have remained fully intact both structurally and functionally, as shown by their community structure and ecological processes. While some of the Colchic mires were slightly degraded by nearby draining in the past, their current hydrological intactness and resilience is ensured by their dependence on atmospheric precipitation, high mire oscillation capacity, the stabilizing effect of the nearby sea, and extensive upstream buffer zones.

    Protection and management requirements

    The component parts of the property are effectively protected against local anthropogenic threats. Only small parts of some of the buffer zones are slightly affected by an acceptable level of traditional natural resource use. All the component parts of the property, and all but 208 ha of the buffer zone, are situated on state-owned land within legally designated protected areas. These are either strictly protected areas (IUCN Protected Area category Ia), or those zones of National Parks (IUCN Protected Area category II) that afford the highest levels of protection. Only a very small part of the property belongs to a protected landscape (IUCN Protected Area category V). The boundaries of these protected areas are known and accepted by the local population.

    The protected areas that cover the property are managed by the Agency of Protected Areas of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia, through its local Protected Area Administration. Sustainably funded integrated management of the entire property is required in addition to the implementation of comprehensive management plans for all four protected areas. Coordination of component areas is enabled as all are managed by the Agency of Protected Areas. An integrated management framework of the property has been developed and requires finalization.

    There is scope for the protected areas to be expanded further, based on strategic conservation planning using Key Biodiversity Areas, which may provide an additional layer of protection to the property, and possibly allow for future extensions to both the property and buffer zones to be considered. This is particularly important in view of existing and potential developments in proximity of the property and along the Black Sea coast. Any development projects need to be subject to rigorous Environmental Impact Assessment procedures, and should not go ahead in case of potential negative impacts on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value.

  4. Commends the State Party for its commitment to expand the buffer zones of the property and to consider further enhancement of the conservation of the property by potentially adding additional areas, especially to protect critically endangered sturgeon through plans for a new protected area adjacent to the property;
  5. Strongly encourages the State Party to submit the proposed extensions of the buffer zones of the Churia component part towards the North and of the Nabada component part to support the conservation of the sturgeon population as a minor boundary modification, if possible, by 1 February 2023;
  6. Requests the State Party to:
    1. Continue to assess the feasibility of expanding the buffer zones around component parts 4, 5, 6, and 7 to ensure that they have higher connectivity, and to provide further details of the conclusions of this feasibility study to the World Heritage Centre, for review by IUCN, by 1 December 2022,
    2. Continue to assess the feasibility of expanding the buffer zone to protect coastal dunes that provide a barrier between the unique percolation mires and the Black Sea,
    3. Finalize the Joint Management Plan for the entire serial property as a matter of priority and submit it to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN;
  7. Acknowledges with thanks the support provided by donors and international development agencies to the protection and management of the property and encourages these donors to maintain and, if feasible, strengthen this support to contribute to the effective management and governance of this property in the long term.
    Decision Code
    44 COM 8B.8
    Inscriptions on the World Heritage List
    States Parties 1
    Decisions adopted at the 44th extended session of the World Heritage Committee
    Context of Decision