The land of stone towers
Tusheti, a protected landscape area in the north of Georgia, has slowly been made accessible for tourists owing to the work of Czech experts. The maintenance of Tusheti’s breathtaking nature is a part of the carefully prepared plan of development cooperation by the Czech Development Agency (CzDA). Thanks to Czech help, two hundred local households have been equipped with solar panels and dozens of kilometers of local hiking trails have been properly marked. Various forms of Czech assistance in Tusheti have been documented in a recently released film The Land of Stone Towers. Moreover, the map of local walking trails marked by the Czech volunteers is now available for free.
CzDA has operated in the almost untouched mountain landscape of Tusheti since 2010. In this region, CzDA supports projects for sustainable forest management, projects providing basic and emergency health care and numerous agricultural projects. The plan of care for Tusheti’s protected landscape area (PLA) is primarily focused on protecting nature, but it also promotes positive contribution to the economic development of the region through sustainable utilization, including tourism. The introduction of electricity via solar panels is integral to success in this case. You can watch the trailer for the film about the activities of CzDA in Tusheti here.
“Today, the solar panels in Tusheti make life easier for 200 households and six public institutions. The current situation allows the development of tourist infrastructure and attracts more tourists to the scenic mountain region. Thanks to the solar panels, the landscape is also spared from the disruption of its unique character that unsightly power lines would cause. Furthermore, the introduction of solar panels prevents depopulation of the area, which used to completely cut off from the rest of the country in the winter. We want to promote local tourism while maintaining a friendly approach to the landscape,” says Jan Černík, which has been operating under the Czech embassy in Tbilisi since January 2017.
The Czech experts created the first Plan of care for PLA Tusheti for the purpose of starting integrated management of the area by the local government in the district of Akhmenta. The plan states how to practically care of the local nature, how to sustainably use it and how to protect Tusheti’s cultural value at the same time. “The care plan hasn’t been prepared exclusively in the Czech Republic, but in cooperation with Georgian colleagues and the Agency for Nature Conservation and Landscape of the Czech Republic working in the field. Cooperation with the locals plays a key role here,” explains Jakub Kašpar, a member of the project team and director deputy of the Krkonoše National Park in the Czech Republic.
The documentary The Land of Stone Towers depicts the activities of Czech experts in this natural and culturally unique region. “During the filming and the interviews with the locals, it became clear that they really appreciate our work. Czechs have gained an excellent reputation as professionals during these few years here in Tusheti, and locals highly appreciate the Czech projects,” says the director Kateřina Mikulcová. The 27-minute film was made in co-production with the Czech Television and will be broadcast on one of its channels later this year. You can already watch the film here.
Czech experts have also drawn a map of the local territory, which includes the marked hiking trails. This map is intended not only for Czech tourists, but also for other people who want to experience the beauty of the Tusheti region on their own. The map is available for free here. “Hiking trails in these mountains were marked mainly by Czech volunteers. Trail marking in the Czech Republic is considered as the most reliable and sophisticated not only in Europe but also globally. This was confirmed in Tusheti as well,” says Michael Hošek from Krkonoše National Park and from EUROPARC Federation. At the end of July and beginning of August 2017, there will also be organized a Help Camp, under which a group of around 20 Czech volunteers will continue with the marking of the hiking trails, the construction of signposts and the archaeological work at the Keselo castle.