South Caucasus – Forest Resilience in Georgia

The World Bank contacted the European Forest Risk Facility to provide experts for an assessment mission to Georgia to consult with the World Bank on possible areas for activities and cooperation.

Between 1 and 9 May 2018, we had the opportunity to travel across the forest landscape of Georgia (Overview of Forests and Forest Sector of Georgia). We assessed the current forest risks and overall forestry situation to identify gaps and challenges for the forestry sector. Based on our experiences we will formulate a report on our findings with recommendations for action. These are then available for the active International Organisations in Georgia.

Increasingly, Georgia’s forests are affected by natural disturbances like fire, wind, pest and disease. Changing climate in combination with land-use, illegal logging and overall high levels of poverty in the rural areas are the driving forces.

Several International Organisations such as the Asia Development Bank, USAID, and FAO are involved in the development of the forestry sector in Georgia. EFI can support these initiatives with its expertise in forest governance and policy, forest research and education and the risk and resilience management network around the Forest Risk Facility.

The European Forest Risk Facility, hosted by the EFI, deployed Alexander Held (EFI Senior Expert) and Craig Hope (Lead Wildfire Officer, South Wales Fire Service) to meet the relevant stakeholders in Georgia, namely the National Forest Authority NFA, Agency for Protected Areas APA, the Emergency Management Service EMS, international organisations like the German GIZ, the Asia Development Bank and NGO´s like Global Forest Watch Georgia and CENN.

Large Wildfires in 2008 and recently in 2017 are high on the agenda and receive a lot of attention. The Global Fire Monitoring Centre GFMC has an impressive list of news and activities on fire in Georgia for instance.

Alex has been in Georgia back in 2010 and could compare the situation from 8 years ago.

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Abastumani region, Bulldozer access to fire site….
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High intensity fire was mainly observed where previous wind damage had occurred.
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Wind damage / disturbance on the slope in the distance…..
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Natural regeneration of Abies Normanniana

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Nature is coming back after the Bulldozer (fire break)

We observed drought damage on Abies Nordmanniana and on Picea Orientalis, wind breaks of various sizes and also bark beetle / insect damages. In combination with illegal logging activities, this is a good recipe for wildfire.

We found that the topic of protection forest, especially in a mountainous country like Georgia seems to be neglected.

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Erosion above urban development. Construction of new buildings ongoing.

Access to the forests is very limited, the forest road network is literally non-existent or in really off-road conditions. We ended up with the suitable fleet of project vehicles. The vehicle of choice: Lada Niva.

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