Forests without Management
17 October, 2013
Forests without Management
The survey on sustainable management of forests in Georgia conducted by the Caucasus Environmental NGO Network revealed that forests are devastated by year and that both environment and welfare of communities who live nearby bear the brunt of it.
The sociological survey on Current State of Forest Management and Its Impact on Population was carried out in 1933 communities of seven regions of Georgia in April-May of this year. The results were presented by the end
of September to Ministry of Environment Protection and Natural Resources of Georgia. The aim of the survey was to identify existing demands on forest resources, the forest management related problems, and to study their impact on different aspects of the life of local population. Key findings of the survey indicate that forests are in a poor condition. They are diminishing in size by year. The deforested areas suffer from severe erosion and increasing risk of mudflows and floods. The situation is complicated around forest roads. The problem of potable water has emerged in communities as a result of forest degradation.
The survey also reconfirmed that there is no forest management strategy in the country and its absence leads to the conflicts between the state and the rural population that greatly depend on the forest. On the other hand, it leads to natural disasters and related economic losses as far as forests are of vital importance to Georgia, since it helps avoid landslides and flooding because most part of the country is made up of high Caucasian mountain range and other mountain chains. As a result, forests that constitute roughly 40% of Georgian territory and often provide the sole living source for the nearby population, have been neglected for decades: no forest inventory has been implemented since late 90s, no management strategy has been worked out and nobody runs statistics that evaluate potential economic benefits of forests or the losses that their devastation may bring. According to the report, 81% of the communities of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti highlands consider that devastation of forests and the forest sector management system led to deterioration of their living standards. In Mtskheta-Mtianeti region this figure stands at 77%, while in Kvemo Kartli and Achara – at 68%. Under the term “deterioration” the respondents mean the reduced income they get from forest timber and non-timber resources, also shrinking income from agriculture as well as degradation and loss of agricultural lands and pastures-hayfields [affected by erosion, flooding and landslides] plus shortage of potable water.
“The truth is that almost 95% of rural population, highlanders in particular, uses forests as the single source of heating and livelihood. Therefore, when the state imposed quotas on timber logging in order to prevent illegal cutting, local communities lost their single source of income,” Rezo Getiashvili of CENN told Georgian Journal. “This restriction curbed illegal cutting significantly but the communities dependent on timbering were deprived of their income left frustrated and neglected. The state had to offer them alternative sources to earn for life and help them adjust to timbering restrictions. Otherwise situation gets complicated. People go ahead with illegal cutting and even do not hide this. In Svaneti for example, police tried to prevent illegal logging but met a fierce opposition so that it had to escape the rage of population.”
Restrictions imposed on timber wood by regions ranges from 48% to 89% throughout Georgia. Another alarming nationwide tendency is the exploitation of tree species facing extinction. The overwhelming majority ranging from 70 to 90% urges that endangered species are being cut in forests. Forests also are destroyed by diseases. Up to 81% of forests were devastated by ailments in Achara, a mountainous region that permanently suffers of floods and landslides and has a pressing need to nurture forests.

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