How do Georgians depend on forests?
A Forest Landscape Restoration project in three pilot areas in Georgia reveals that villages in higher altitude tend to depend more on forest products. The project was started in January 2012 by IUCN and is funded by the German International Cooperation, GIZ.
In Georgia, forest land occupies just over three million hectares which is about 40% of the country’s territory. Forests play an essential role in the economic and social life of the country. People depend on their surrounding resources for subsistence aspects of their daily life – for food, water, fuel, building materials such as timber for house-building, and so on. Many economic activities are also based on natural resources.
One of the purposes of the Forest Landscape Restoration project by IUCN is to define the level and scope of human dependency on forests and identify and evaluate the factors which influence the relationship between people and their natural resource base.
In Georgia, the project is implemented through field surveys among the local population. The pilot sites were selected based on previous work in the framework of the ENPI FLEG Programme by IUCN, as well as based on their specific characteristics. Field surveys were carried out in three regions: Village Jebota (Tianeti Municipality), Village Zemo Alvani (Akhmeta Municipality) and Village Tsagveri (Borjomi Municipality). 140 households were interviewed to identify various models and scales of dependency of local population on forest resources.
The field survey revealed the following usage of forest resources by local people:
- The villages located in the low land area, with relatively mild climate and availability of diverse agricultural products are less dependent on forest resources.
- The villages located on a higher altitude, with less arable land and less favorable climatic conditions are more dependent on forest resources.
The dependency on forest resources includes intensive usage of timber forest resources mainly as fire-wood and usage of non-timber forest resources, but in relatively low scales. Natural gas as an alternative energy supply is available in two (out of three) pilot villages, but due to high cost it is used only for cooking.
The main source for heating remains fire-wood.
The final reports for all three pilot sites will soon be available.