Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 19, Issue 5, pp 1953–1980 | Cite as

Government and biodiversity governance in Post-Soviet Azerbaijan: an institutional perspective

  • Sebastian SchmidtEmail author
  • Stephan Busse
  • Elshan Nuriyev


Over the last 15 years, Azerbaijan has doubled its protected areas territory to almost 10 % of the country’s surface area. Although the daily management of the existing strictly protected areas continues to pose a challenge, the establishment of nine national parks has been a remarkable achievement. At present, the designation of UNESCO biosphere reserves (BR) is the expressed political will of the government. By reviewing the last 25 years of nature conservation, and, in particular, the national park programme, we present an institutional analysis for integrative nature conservation in Azerbaijan. Against the cultural, social and political background, in particular the transition of the state, the challenges for cross-hierarchical governance of protected areas are outlined at the example of a BR. We find that the implementation of the UNESCO MAB philosophy, which is based on inter alia participation by administration, local communities and rural stakeholder, is hampered by this present-day political reality. The political situation and an autocratic governance scheme put successful implementation of a “model region of sustainable development” at risk. Education and empowerment are a prerequisite for eventual success; this is true for Azerbaijan as well as for other Post-Soviet countries with strong top-down regimes.


Azerbaijan Governance Biosphere reserve Protected area Conservation policy 



The authors thank the Cassiopeia Foundation, Germany for the financial support of the research and the Michael Succow Foundation, Germany for institutional support to prepare this publication. We also are grateful to two anonymous reviewers, who helped to improve this publication significantly.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sebastian Schmidt
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stephan Busse
    • 2
  • Elshan Nuriyev
    • 3
  1. 1.FINC FoundationGreifswaldGermany
  2. 2.GreifswaldGermany
  3. 3.Institute of Soil Science and AgrochemistryAzerbaijan National Academy of SciencesBakuAzerbaijan

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