A proposed highway through Georgia’s Black Sea wetlands and the introduction of hunting in national parks are raising concerns that Tbilisi’s focus on immediate economic gain could result in the destruction of natural treasures.
The highway project, announced by President Mikheil Saakashvili in August, is part of a government push to develop a new resort area in Anaklia on the Black Sea. Saakashvili, the project’s promoter-in-chief, has predicted the Anaklia venture will become the “Sharm-el-Sheikh of the Black Sea coast.” Sharm-el-Sheikh is an Egyptian tourist playground on the Red Sea.
The president contends that the highway would allow tourists to travel to Anaklia from the regional capital of Batumi in 50 minutes, cutting the current drive-time by roughly an hour. But the shorter route would also slice through “unique” wetlands in the Kolkheti National Park, noted Irakli Macharashvili, the biodiversity program coordinator at Green Alternative, an environmental organization.
To read the full story
Molly Corso is a freelance reporter and photojournalist based in Tbilisi.