The National Forest Concept for Georgia

The National Forest Concept for Georgia (hereinafter – the Concept) defines the State’s approach to
forests, taking into account the main functional purpose of forests and their values.

The Concept shall apply to all forests of Georgia irrespective of the forms of ownership, possession
and management. This document will serve as a basis for the development and improvement of the
forestry sector related legislation, institutional set-up and other policy documents.

Forests are especially valuable natural resources in Georgia. They occupy about 40% of the territory of
the country and have an exceptional importance at the national, regional and global levels. Georgian
forests not only conserve the unique biological diversity of Georgia, but ensure continuous delivery
of vital direct and indirect benefits and resources to the population. This in turn facilitates the
functioning of the field of economy, the growth of human welfare, poverty elimination and creates
a favourable environment for the sustainable development of the country.

95-98% of Georgian forests have natural origins. Their composition, structure, growth,
development and other characteristics determine a rich biological diversity – up to 400 tree and
shrub species grow in Georgian forests. The large number of endemic timber tree species points to
the high diversity of dendroflora. Among endemic species 61 species are endemic to Georgia and 43
are endemic to the Caucasus.

Georgian forests provide shelter and migration routes to many animal species, assisting them in
maintaining genetic diversity. Georgia lies in one of the Earth’s biologically richest regions; one
of the WWF’s 35 “priority places” covers the Caucasus region. Moreover, Georgia is located within
two “biodiversity hotspots” – the Caucasus and Iran-Anatolia – from the 34 “biodiversity hotspots”
identified by Conservation International as being distinguished by biodiversity and at the same
time gravely threatened territories. Forest massifs surviving in the Georgian mountains are the last
untouched forests in the moderate climate zone of the Earth and thus have a global importance.
Georgian forests are required to meet different demands of the national economy and the
population. Forest resources are crucial for carrying out social-environmental functions e.g. water
regulation, soil protection, climate regulation, recreational, resort, sanitary-hygienic, aesthetic and
other useful functions of great significance to the State.

Georgia’s forests provide timber for industrial and household use, as well as non-timber resources
including medicinal plants.

Forestry activities and processing of forest resources can generate significant value and work
possibilities, and thus increase incomes and prosperity of the rural population.

Georgian forests have vital importance for the safety and well-being of the population, as well as for
different industries. Clean water supply for the major part of the Georgian population depends on
forests. Water supply for agriculture, hydro energy, etc. depends on forest ecosystem health. Forests
regulate water quality and mitigate the risk of flooding and flash flooding by regulating the run-off
of precipitation. They also help to prevent soil erosion, and mitigate the risk and impacts of
landslides, avalanches and mudflows. Forests play an important part in the global carbon cycle by absorbing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in woody matter and forest soils. The mentioned
regulatory functions are very important for the development of hydro energy (since healthy
forests decrease the quantity of river sediments and thus protect water reservoirs from filling) and
agriculture (erosion control, pest control, pollination of agricultural crops, etc.).

Georgian forests also have an exceptional aesthetic and recreational importance. Forests add to
tourism potential and help to increase the incomes from tourism activities. The existence and
development of a number of resorts and types of tourism depend on forest ecosystems. Moreover,
Georgian forests have great scientific, historical, spiritual and cultural importance.

 

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The National Forest Concept for Georgia

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