As part of its ambitious climate pledge, Georgia is shifting to sustainable forest management, aiming to better protect its lush forests, reduce emissions and promote sustainable living. To assist the country in achieving these goals, Japan and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) work in partnership with Georgia’s Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, the National Forestry Agency, municipal authorities and local communities to introduce forest management practices that benefit nature, people and the economy.
On 26-30 September, two Japanese experts visited Georgia to share their experiences and offer practical recommendations in the fields of forest management and environmental tourism. Mitsunobu Onishi and Toru Inada met with representatives of the National Forestry Agency and the Mtskheta Municipality. They also visited a newly opened Business Service Yard in Bodorna village and forest sites in Mtskheta Municipality where Japan and UNDP are supporting alternative solutions to illegal logging while promoting sustainable living and raising awareness about forest protection.
The experts presented their findings and recommendations on 30 September, at a high-level workshop that brought together representatives of the state agencies involved in forest management and environmental protection.
Otar Shamugia, Minister of Environment Protection and Agriculture; H.E. Imamura Akira, Ambassador of Japan to Georgia; and Anna Chernyshova, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Georgia, addressed the participants with welcome remarks.
“Climate change is a huge challenge for Georgia and the world,” Minister Shamugia said. “We need to introduce adaptation and mitigation measures in all sectors to address emerging threats. Sustainable forest management is an essential part of this agenda. The expertise and support provided by our international partners are crucial to fulfilling Georgia’s commitments in this area. The new project contributes to the ongoing forestry reform and helps us establish sustainable forestry sites in Mtskheta Municipality to manage the forest in line with its functional purpose. I thank the Government of Japan and UNDP for providing financial and technical support for this initiative.”
“Japan’s forest resources have tripled over the past 50 years, now covering around two-thirds of the country’s territory and contributing to our ambitious plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050,” Ambassador Imamura said. “We are honored to share this experience with Georgia, help protect a fragile forest ecosystem and explore the environmental, economic and social benefits.”
“Our joint work with the Japanese Government and the National Forestry Agency provides around 43,000 people with easy access to sustainably harvested firewood for heating and other needs,” UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Anna Chernyshova noted. “We are piloting sustainable forest management in Mtskheta Municipality, hoping that the same model can be expanded to Georgia’s other regions.”
With $920,000 in funding from Japan, UNDP assists the National Forestry Agency to build, develop and improve Business Service Yards and ensure that they provide quality services to local communities. By the end of 2022, a new Business Service Yards will be established in Jighaura village. Two more Business Service Yards in Dzegvi and Qvemo Lisi will be equipped with all-terrain vehicles and firefighting tools. Local foresters will be trained in sustainable forest management and vulnerable families from the nearby villages will receive energy-efficient stoves. UNDP and the National Forestry Agency will also carry out an information campaign to let people know why forest protection is so important.
This support is part of UNDP’s global Climate Promise effort to assist 120 countries and territories to achieve their climate goals. Georgia is one of 23 countries and territories where Climate Promise is funded by Japan, the largest supporter of this pioneering and groundbreaking initiative.