The Caucasus region has been inhabited and affected by human communities for tens of thousands of years, with on average nearly half of the land in the region already transformed by human activities. Nevertheless, several pristine areas remain in the hotspot, mostly in remote high-altitude areas and inaccessible gorges. About 27 percent of the area, totaling 145,000 km², remains as natural habitat; however, only about 12 percent of the original vegetation is considered pristine. Most of the hotspot's intact ecosystems are concentrated in inaccessible high mountain sites, while the plains and the foothills have suffered the most habitat loss.
The conservation situation in the Caucasus region has deteriorated because of the social and economic crises that have plagued the region since 1992. A lack of fuel and alternate energy sources has doubled and tripled firewood consumption in some areas, increasing illegal timber cutting. Overgrazing by sheep has eroded the natural vegetation in more than 30 percent of subalpine and alpine summer ranges and about 50 percent in the winter ranges of the steppe and semidesert areas.
The poaching of wild animals has increased significantly since the 1990s. The animals at the highest risk from poaching are the leopard (Panthera pardus), brown bear (Ursus arctos), wolf (Canis lupus), Bezoar goat (Capra aegagrus, VU) and the tur (Capra caucasica, EN). The last species, which still numbered in the hundreds of thousands in the middle of this century, has now been drastically reduced because of the combination of poaching and greatly increased development of pastureland. Today, only about 4,000 of the eastern subspecies and 6,000-10,000 of the western subspecies remain.