Government Jumps at Forest Reforms
20 October, 2011
Government Jumps at Forest Reforms

The accelerated way of changing the forest law bypasses the public opinion and poses irretrievable environmental risks - Georgian green watchdogs worry and appeal to the government to heed its ear to the public opinion and not jump at forest reforms.


On October 13, 2011 Georgian government held public hearing of the draft project of law on forest legislation that should replace the currently active Forest Code without publicity inclusion irrespective repeated requests of Georgian environmentalists to be included in the

decision-making process.

Governmental standpoint is that the forest management in the country lags behind standards that causes uncontrolled cut out of forests and the solution to the problem must be found as soon as possible. And the best solution is handing 100% of forests encompassing 1.8 million hectares including virgin forests under 49-year-long-term lease agreements to private sector.

And the sooner the new legislation is approved, the sooner lease process will start. Reforms gained kaleidoscopic speed this past spring when the forest management was handed to the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (MENRG) and the forest law project was completed by July and slated for public hearings and parliamentary procedures by fall.

However, all the documentation was made and offered to the public in English that made environmentalists think that the process is hastened and lacks competent opinion of sector pundits that may lead to fatal results.

40% of Georgia is made up of forests and only 10-15% of it can be used for economic activity as Georgia is a highland region and natural disaster risks including landslips and floods are quite high.

“Therefore, Georgia cannot handle with its forests like lowland countries,” Rezo Getiashvili, the Environmental projects Coordinator at CENN, told Georgian Journal. “We should be much more careful for if you cut out trees in highlands you may have flood in lowland. Georgian population faces approximately USD 150 million worth loss each year due to natural disasters and government compensates only 1.5% of the loss that means to only one person in 70 disaster-affected people.”

Green watchdogs repeatedly appealed to government this fall to slow down the pace and draw reasonable decisions. They hailed government to postpone the discussion date and insure translation of documents in Georgian language so as to insure public inclusion in the process. On October 6, 2011 Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN) sent a long list of possible risks to MENRG requiring public information before the forest code discussion scheduled on October 13, 2011. But all to no avail.

The hearing was held without requested information. Although government answered a big deal of sore questions during the project discussion but major questions still remain unsolved and Aleko Khetaguri, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, agreed to continue discussions with environmentalists prior the project will be put under parliamentary procedures.

The key question of giving forest under lease agreement without preliminary inventory tops the agenda. Under the pretext that inventory is too expensive [about USD 3 per hectare] and Georgian state budget cannot afford it government leaves inventory in competence of the potential lessees.

Sector pundits find this approach unreasonable and risky from price-making and transparency points of view. Leasing forests without preliminary inventory means that either the state or the lessee will be at loss.

Getiashvili assures that the state will be at loss at any rate as far as if investors find out that the forest does not meet the expectations they will squeeze as much profit out of the forest as possible that ultimately may lead to environmental catastrophes.

“Inventory falls within the competence of the state budget of all countries globe over. It can take maximum USD 5 million and this sum is quite available to Georgian budget I believe. In 2007-2008 the state raised about USD 100 million through forest licensing why did not they earmark sums for inventory out of this money? What is this 5 million compared to the losses of hundreds million we face due to natural disasters each year?” Getiashvili asks.

Khetaguri assures that they strongly demand of investors to plant 3 trees instead of one that is a guarantee that forests will be protected from devastation.

Getiahsvili finds the provision not sufficient due to inclement climate of Georgia especially in its east part where the dry climate that makes the forest replanting process quite difficult. Forests cut out in Dariali Gorge in 19th century cannot be recreated up to day irrespective huge finances spent on forest recreation during the soviet time.

“As forest experts explain a normal forest consists of 200 trees and to plant this kind of forest one should plant 3 thousand young plants [so that 200 trees could survive] that means that one should plant 15 not 3 trees instead of one cut tree to insure forest recreation,” Getiashvili said.

Also paragraphs defining rights and competence of lease-holders are dubious leading to risks that lease-holders can use forests at their own discretion and deprive local population of their legal right to utilize the forest for their domestic needs. And the problem may pester people for about half-century as lease becomes 49-year long.

“This is just incomplete list of risks government has to solve in frames of the forest code and if broad society does not raise its voice to force government find reasonable solution results will be lamentable,” Getiashvili concluded.



Other Stories
Doing business in Georgia has become easier than in America
According to the Doing Business 2019 report published by the World Bank, Georgia ranked 6th among 190 countries in terms of simplicity of doing business. This was an improvement over two ranks compared to last year.
Problems that foreigners frequently face in Georgia
The importance of Georgia as a tourism hub is growing year after year.
Tbilisi TV Broadcasting Tower – Better than the Eiffel Tower?
It is planned to renovate the Tbilisi TV Broadcasting Tower, one of the landmarks in the capital.
Georgian Fusion Menu by The Biltmore Hotel Tbilisi
5,895,914 international visitors have visited Georgia between January and August of 2018. Compared to the previous year the number has increased by 12.2 per cent.
Advertising of gambling and lucrative games may become banned in Georgia
Advertising of gambling and lucrative games may become banned in Georgia. Those who violate the new rule would be fined GEL 10 000.
Lebanese café-lounge Beirut opens in Tbilisi
What is necessary to organize an unforgettable event? – Fun, emotions, lots of surprises, good music and delicious menu.
Georgia second among the fastest growing tourist destinations in Europe
Georgia is among the fastest growing tourist destinations in Europe. The data is published by the UN World Tourism Organization.
Bitmain launches world digital mining summit in Tbilisi, Georgia
Bitmain CEO Jihan Wu and Roger Ver, CEO of Head Speaker List featuring Circle, and Genesis Mining when Digital Mining Leaders Convene In Tbilisi on September 21-23
TBC Bank and Gazelle Finance have teamed-up to support Medical City, a leading healthcare provider in the western region of Georgia to launch the Western Regional Center Of Modern Medical Technologies.
Equivalent to buried treasure – resources that are underused in Georgia
For 2018 the IMF Commission has forecast an annual economic growth for the Georgian economy of about 5,5%.
Does the quality of Georgian wine increase and how the export affects it
If we look at the data collected about modern Georgian wine, we will find out that the Georgian wines produced between 2015-2017 are much better in terms of their quality and Oenologic features rather than the wines produced between 2009-2011.
Japan simplifies the visa requirements for Georgian citizens
Diplomatic and economic relations between Georgia and Japan are now moving to a new phase. Recently Japan has decided to simplify the visa requirements for Georgian citizens.
M&S (Marks and Spencer) and H&M collections to be produced in Georgia
Garments manufacturer MGMTEX will start production of the M&S and H&M trendy collections from this September.
The World Digital Mining Summit to be held in Georgia
The summit is scheduled to take place between 21st-23rd September in the Hualing Hotel, Tbilisi, Georgia.
Galt and Taggart - Tourism Boom Continues in Georgia
Tourism has become one of the key drivers for the Georgian economy. Galt and Taggart has recently published research about the Georgian tourism sector in the first half of 2018.
"The worst dream for Putin is that Russians want to live in Georgia"
This year, visitors to the Adjara region would notice that there is a boom in construction in and around Batumi.
Underground gas storage facility to be built in Georgia
KfW, a German government-owned development bank signed a EUR 150 million promotional loan with the state-owned Georgian Oil and Gas Corporation (GOGC) for the construction of the first underground gas storage facility in Georgia.
New gambling rules for Georgia
Georgian lawmakers are preparing a new draft law relating to online-casinos and gambling that will seek to curb gambling addiction in Georgia.
How expensive is it to visit Georgia?
The Georgian Lari (GEL) is the official currency of Georgia and is the only legal means of payment in the entire territory of Georgia.
Trade with the EU and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) has grown significantly
Trade with the EU and the CIS has grown by 26% and 33.5 % respectively, says GeoStat, the Georgian National Statistics Office.
The unemployment rate decreases in Georgia
The unemployment rate decreased in Georgia by 1,9% and amounted to 12.1% in the 2nd quarter of 2018 compared with the previous quarter,
Memorandum of Understanding to be signed between Georgia and Malaysia
According to the Georgian Ambassador to Malaysia Nikoloz Apkhazava, Georgia plans to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Malaysia.
“Blauenstein Georgia” due to expand in Georgia
“Blauenstein Georgia” is planning to open more shops in Georgia. It is an agriculture company that sells meat products, meat and convenience food.
The amount of Direct Foreign Investment rises in Georgia
According to the information of the National Statistics Office of Georgia, the amount of direct foreign investment in Georgia has risen
It’s going to get  harder for foreigners to get residence permit in Georgia
It’s going to get harder for foreigners to get permit of residence in Georgia.
Exchange Rates
GEL Exchange Rate
Other Stories
Recently Toyota rolled out Global Campaign under this slogan that reflects the Olympic and Paralympic Spirit of Encouragement,
A couple from Switzerland combines Swiss tradition and technology with Georgian products. Their cheese is made in the Georgian mountains and sold in local stores and hotels.
It has been more than five years since the residents of Lilo village, near Tbilisi, cannot open their windows.
63 000 GEL was received by the Georgian Agro Export Group which is just a small part of the European Neighbourhood Programme for Agricultural and Rural development.
Georgian entrepreneur Guka Tavberidze, who runs his own business in the UK and does it quite well, has been invited by BBC
The grand opening of 7-star The Biltmore Hotel Tbilisi took place in Georgia’s capital on July 31.
DUSHETI, Georgia – The Georgian government and the World Bank will allocate USD 5.6 million (12 million GEL) to fund
A new Georgian clothing brand named Person has emerged in Georgian market.
Georgia is in the midst of an economic maelstrom, Euronews reports.
Situation at Georgia’s mineral water market is interesting: over the last year, the volume of export has grown by 56 percent. According to “GeoStat”, over $114 million worth of mineral water was sold
GEL Exchange
November 2018
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30