The unique natural monument – Goderdzi Petrified Forest is under threat. “Considering the slope gradient and the degree of rock weathering, the petrified forest is under serious risk of destruction. The monument may lose its original appearance.” – says Mr. Giorgi Beridze, geologist.
Goderdzi Pertified Forest is the only natural monument in the Caucasus region that has been developed in volcanogenic rocks. It is stretched from the Adigeni municipality covering upper Adjara AR. The nearest populated area is the village of Zarzma of the Adigeni municipality. 15 million years ago the forest was destroyed as a result of eruption of a volcano, which covered the area with lava ash and petrified the forest – tree stems, branches and leaves.
Now this unique natural monument is under threat. The situation is aggravated by the landslide that has been occurred some years ago and forest cutting area that are allocated within the landslide zone. Moreover, the Adigeni-Khulo motor road has been built within the mentioned zone.
According to Mr. Giorgi Beridze, cutting of trees and construction of forest roads within landslide prone areas lead to the damage of soils and threaten both the roads and the forests:
„Landslides and small sized landslide folds are observed almost everywhere within the study area. Forest roads damage soils and contribute to erosion. Forest roads are one of the most important triggering factors of the mentioned processes. It has to be noted, that within the study area mainly bed rocks, containing petrified tree stems and other fragments are exposed”.
According to the recommendation of the geologist, the areas containing fragments of petrified forests should be reinforced and fenced.
On September 15, 2017, within the framework of the Global Forest Watch project, CENN visited the Samtskhe-Javakheti region to assess the state of local forests. Based on the results of field visits, Mr. Giorgi Kirkitadze, forest specialist and Mr. Giorgi Beridze, geologist, assessed the state of Adigeni forests and developed relevant reports. The project is being implemented by the World Resource Institute (WRI) with financial assistance of UNEP/GEF.
Along with the threatened petrified forests, the experts revealed many other different environmental problems in the Adigeni municipality, including landslide prone areas, damaged soils, clear-cut sites, illegal logging, forest wastes, grazing in forests, etc.
The level of environmental violations in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region is very high. The local population proceeded with illegal logging even when the whole Georgia had been involved in firefighting in Borjomi forests. In August 19-31, the Environmental Supervision Department revealed 35 cases of illegal logging, wood processing and transportation only in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region. Poaching is still is the most acute problem in the region. According to Mr. Giorgi Beridze, forest specialist, the process of forests regeneration is slow due to the human pressure. As a result of intensive logging, some former forested areas are transformed into meadows.
“The existing offspring cannot ensure the natural regeneration of forests. This process is complicated also by grazing in forested areas. There are many evidences of illegal logging that took place recently. Often poachers cover stubs with dead forest materials than make them invisible from long distances”, – says to Mr. Giorgi Kirkitadze.
The specialists speak about the necessity of taking special measures to ensure forest regeneration. According to the geologist, mowing and grazing shall not be allowed in certain areas of the Adigeni municipality. The forest specialist recommends to allocate forest waste to the local population free of charge. “To facilitate the development of offspring and young trees in cut areas, mowing and grazing shall be prohibited. Cutting of trees in these zones in coming years is not recommended. To improve sanitary condition of cut areas, large timber waste which can be found throughout the territory in considerable amounts shall be removed”.
Within the framework of GFW CENN is implementing the project New Technologies for Sustainable Forest Governance, which is aimed at supporting the on-going forestry reform through the introduction of new information and communication technologies in the forestry sector.