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Transformation in the Javakheti Highlands Georgia – a Community-based Participatory Approach Towards Sustainable Pasture Management in a Remote Mountain Area

Susanne Elsen & Stefan Zerbe


In many regions of the world, societies are in a phase of rapid transition due to political and socio-economic changes, combined with changes in the natural environment, climate change and biodiversity loss. In the case study presented here, we address the Armenian population of the remote rural area of the Javakheti Highlands in the South Caucasus of Georgia, situated next to the Turkish frontier. Actors in this region have to deal with cumulative uncertainties related to the complex processes of post-Soviet transition and its social, cultural and economic consequences. Any transformative intention that effects local population has to be embedded into everyday life context. Entering in such an unclear situation as western researchers with the mission to generate possible answers to a vital economic and socio-cultural question, asks for comprehensive approaches following primarily the needs of the local people, integrating different perspectives of scientists, stakeholders and concerned population.

Mutual understanding, the identification with the defined mission and cooperative knowledge production are preconditions for robust answers to these challenges. Consequently, a stakeholder analysis is performed. Using the methodological approach of community-based participatory research, we answered the need, that the defined mission of this project is only achievable on the base of building trust and shared knowledge between the involved actors. This study describes the process of approximation to the research field as a first step to the development of sustainable solutions.

Keywords: activating methods; co-operative knowledge production; community development; community economy; post-soviet transition; transformative research.


About the Authors:

Susanne Elsen, Social Scientist Free University of Bozen-Bolzano

Stefan Zerbe, Landscape Ecologist Free University of Bozen-Bolzano

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