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Basic stability characteristics of mountain landscapes in Georgia.

Georgia is located in the South Caucasus, between Black and Caspian seas, in Asia Minor, among South Caucasus Mountains. Georgia covers a territory of 69,700 [km.sup.2] and its population is almost 4.6 million. By area and population, Georgia keeps the 25th place in Europe. Georgia is distinguished by natural condition, biologic and landscape variety. The 10% of Georgia territory is no-touch natural environment and 40% of it is kept by primeval forest. There are all types of plants and soils in Georgia characteristic to Europe. It keeps the second place by mammalians and birds, third place by reptiles and fifth place by endemism and higher plants of their species and quantities.

Georgia is distinguished by landscape variety in Europe. Its range by height changes in limits of 0-5201 meters. 54% of its territory is represented by mountains, 33% by hills and knolls, and the rest of it--by lowland and plain. There are represented all forms of relief known in the world. The geographic location of Georgia, partitioning of its relief and variety of country climate, stipulates high characteristics of landscape diversity. There are represented 72 types of landscape, which, recounted on the territory, is a higher indicator in Europe (Biological and Landscape..., 2000).

Landscape diversity of Georgia stipulates a complexity of studying its geographical-ecological (geo-ecological) features. Among such features a particular meaning have the horizontal and vertical structure of landscape, the transformation of energy and substance (functioning) in landscape, the forms and scales of influence on the landscape, the landscape potential and stability. Their detection is in straight relation to the landscape functions determination, which is very important for landscape planning.

Basic Characteristics of Georgia Landscapes

Up-to-day condition of landscape is most important among geo-ecologic characteristics. Landscape transformation scales and application forms can show it. Among them, the basic ones are the present structure of landscape, existence of specific geo-masses, influence of forms and intensity. According to what kind of influence (natural, social-economic or mixed) is redundant, the character of the corresponding process is determined (Elizbarashvili, Matchavariani, et al., 2000).

Besides that, the influence on the landscape can be defined during some time (shortly, periodic, constant), procedural (on components, on complex, on process), scaled (feeble, average, strong) and others. The influence can be considered by modification of source, intensity, periodicity, forms and results. Consequently, the geographic analysis of each kind of influence and its results is a labor-consuming scientific-research process, which is stipulated by landscape, variety and scale of influence.

Character of influence can be considered by ability of self-regeneration of the landscape structure. It is admitted that if the influence touches only the biologic components, the landscape preserves the self-generation ability. Preservation of the self-regeneration mechanism is impossible if (Elizbarashvili, 2005):

1. The influence coincides or stimulates (increases) the negative natural processes (salinity, ravines, erosion and so on).

2. The basic landscape created component or relief and the climate are influenced (open-cast mining, terracing, and transport highway building and so on).

3. When one ecosystem is exchanged by another, an equivalent one (Box et al., 2000).

Any arbitrary influence can bring negative and positive results. For nature, the extreme influence causes a destruction of dynamic balance, conversion systemic connections among components, exchange of structure and functioning and so on. In spite of above mentioned, two aspects must be considered: first--how well preserved are the structural-functional features of any landscape after influence and second--how well the given landscape of social-economic function carries out. We can consider the natural influence and its results as having two forms: direct and indirect. The first form is considered in case of extreme hydrothermal conditions (for example a drought, redundant humidity), when bio-geo-horizons and other biomasses are directly exchanged (hydro masses, herbal masses, soil masses) and they modify little by little. In the landscape, the relief created processes are passive, active--water cycle, bio-geo-cycle, transformation of solar energy and others.

When analyzing the anthropogenic influence, one must suppose that landscape needs self-generation ability for recovery of initial ability. This especially concerns these landscapes, which have a recourse reproduction and environment recovery functions. Anthropogenic influence differs by form of agriculture, techno (industry, building, transport and others), techno ecological (exploitation of the forests, conflagration and others), recreational activities and others. It can be synchronous (various at the same times--in case of many-sided application of the territory) or iterate (when one kind of influence is exchanged for other). Synchronous influence basically is represented on the urban like territory, that is, in such landscapes where are performed at the same time agricultural, forest, and water exploitations. The influence is iterated in these regions where the seasonal agricultural and recreational loading is great. Such landscapes are represented basically in mountains. The plane landscapes among mountains of Georgia must be considered as an area of synchronous influence, where there are represented various agricultural and social activities of the population, where is concentrated most part (90%) of the society, where there are created life environment, industrial, agricultural and transport infrastructures and so on. Influence of agricultural activities is intensive but they carry periodic character. In spite of the periodicity of the agro-technical influence, it is so essential that agrarian landscape structure completely is depended on the purposefulness of such influence. In the agro-landscapes, the agro influence is directed for the preservation of desired stable development of agriculture and functioning. The less agriculture corresponds to the landscape-ecologic conditions, the less it is stable to the environment factors, the more is the agro-technical influence and the less profitable is the production (Radavanyi, Shakhmardan, 2007).

Main Characteristics Stability of Landscapes

For geo-ecologic analysis of landscapes, the searching of landscape stability has a great importance. Landscape stability is its ability or feature of self-regulation or self-preservation, its ability to keep the structural-ethologic characteristics under different influence. The stability is one of the basic features of landscapes, their natural exponent, on the base of which landscape dynamical balance is provided and balance development of their components. There is a direct connection between complexity of landscape, vertical structure and stability, by which as more simple is the structure, the more unstable is the landscape. It is more difficult to consider the stability for that transformed, artificial landscape which has been created in result of purposeful economic activity. Their stability completely is depended on the forms and intensity of anthropogenic and natural influence (Piloting, 2009). In the transformed landscapes, the preservation of structural-ethologic characteristics is performed or can be performed by purposeful economic activity (Didebulidze, Plachter, 2002). In the opposite case, the stability of landscape is extremely decreased. Its condition can be influenced by unimportant change of natural processes, even the worsening of the weather. Comparatively, stable anthropogenic landscape can be created then it is equivalent to the natural one or the character of anthropogenic influence coincides to the flowing character of natural processes.

The migration mode is one of the important factors of stability rate determination to the natural influence in the mountain territory, slope inclination and exposition. The high stability distinguishes those landscapes which are characterized by autonomous and subaquatic mode, unimportant inclination (0-15 degrees), which are represented on the slope of North or East exposition.

Investigation of the Georgia's landscapes showed that the basic criteria of their determination are: relief inclination, migration mode, geologic construction, character of geo-dynamic processes, slope exposition, present condition of the landscape, complexity of the vertical structure of landscape, soil capacity and mechanical consistence, humidity degree and type of relief (Sayadyan et al, 2009). By those criteria, they can be separated out:

1. Stable territories--relief inclination--0-10 degrees, mode of migration autonomous and subaquatic, geologic construction--Crystal rocks and act.

2. Middling changed territories--relief inclination--11-20 degrees, mode of migration--trans-alluvial and alluvial -accumulative, geologic construction crystal and metamorphic rocks and others.

3. Less stable territory--relief inclination--21-30 degrees, mode of migration--trans-alluvial and alluvial-accumulative, geologic construction metamorphic rocks and others.

4. Middling unstable territory--relief inclination--31-35 degrees, mode of migration--trans-alluvial, geologic construction--metamorphic and easy crushed rocks and others.

5. Unstable territory--relief inclination--more than 45 degrees, mode of migration--trans-alluvial, bad lands, rocks, geologic construction--easy crushed rocks and others.


Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University


Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University


Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University


Beroutchashvili, N. (1995), Caucasus: Landscapes, Models, Experiments. Tbilisi. (in Russian).

Box, E.O., Nakhutsrishvili, G., Zazanashvili, N., Liebermann, R.J., Fujiwara, K., and Miyawaki, A. (2000), "Vegetation and Landscapes of Georgia (Caucasus), as a Basis for Landscapes Restoration," Bulletin of the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, Yokohama National University 26(1): 69-102.

Didebulidze, A., and Plachter, H. (2002), "Nature conservation aspects of pastoral farming in Georgia," in Redecker, B., Fink, B., Hardtle, W., Riecken, U. & Schroder, E. (eds.), Pasture Landscapes and Nature Conservation. Berlin: Springer, 87-105.

Elizbarashvili, N., L. Matchavariani et al. (2000), Geography of Georgia. Tbilisi. (in Georgian)

Elizbarashvili, N. (2005), Geo-ecological Basis of Landscape Planning. Tbilisi. (in Georgian)

Radavanyi, J., and Shakhmardan S.M. (2007), "Challenges Facing the Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus," Eurasian Geography and Economics 48(2): 157-177.

Sayadyan, H., R. Mammadov, N. Elizbarashvili, and M. Garforth (2009), Piloting Landscape Planning in the Countries of the South Caucasus. Baku, Tbilisi, and Yerevan.

*** Biological and Landscape Diversity of Georgia (2000). Tbilisi, Published by WWF Georgia Country Office.
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Author:Elizbarashvili, Nodar; Seperteladze, Zurab; Elizbarashvili, Rusudan
Publication:Geopolitics, History, and International Relations
Geographic Code:4EXGA
Date:Oct 1, 2015
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