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Georgia for timber2012-11-13 14:59
Georgian environmentalists are sounding the alarm. According to them, ruthless deforestation is being carried out over the last few years in different regions of Georgia. Blame for this is rather on the foreign companies having the right to cut trees than on the rustic poachers.
Best lumber of Georgia leaves the country mainly through the Black Sea ports, and most of the remaining lumber was sold to the Chinese, Indians and Italians by Saakashvili's government. Forests were seized by the government officials. Unplanned massive deforestation has caused rock falls and landslides, which have increased in Georgia recently. The most difficult situation is in Chiatura, where the forests have been destroyed for years. Imereti residents tried to undertake different means, but all in vain.
GTimes correspondent has met and talked about this with Roland Hodzhanashvili, a journalist and teacher from the village of Gezrula, Chiaturi region: "In Chiatura we had a lovely forest. Beech, hornbeam and oak forests, especially the chestnut forest, this is the wealth of Georgia, and instead of caring for them, the government sells them to foreigners, while the ordinary peasant in Chiaturi has no right to cut down a tree to procure wood for the winter. Farmers were given a so-called "ticket" under which they are allowed to cut only a limited number of trees in a specific array, which is not enough for any family. Each tree is marked, and if a farmer cuts it down, he answers in court for this - he would have to pay a fine of $ 150-300 lari per tree, and maybe even more. The size of the penalty depends on the size of the tree. It should be noted that foreign visitors cut down only healthy trees; selection of trees is carried out only on this basis, which ultimately leads Chiaturi to an environmental disaster", says Roland Hodzhanashvili.
In Georgia, there is the Agency for natural resources, which must have information on the number of forests, their sale and further planting of new trees; but in Chiatura forestry has not conducted inventory since 1980. And in those times there were cases when poachers cut down the trees, but not in such quantities.
In the village of Gezrula, for example, there is a great chestnut forest. Local people have always tried not to cut the chestnuts, they are mostly using beech and hornbeam trees. Several families live off the sale of trees, since they have no other option. It should be noted that poaching doesn't cause great harm to nature, since the peasants have no without equipment and cut trees using improvised means. It's impossible to cut down a lot of trees this way.