Georgia continues to receive Austria’s experience in the forestry sector.
The National Seminar of the Multi-Institutional Rural Development Forestry Working Group established by the Civil Committee was held at the Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel. The seminar was organized by CENN, with the financial support of the Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC), within the framework of the Sustainable Forest Management for Rural Development project.
The main part of the seminar was dedicated to presenting the research carried out, pilot initiatives on the production of forest timber and non-timber products, and market development. The parties also discussed ecotourism projects, including the first bicycle path in Adjara and an initiative to establish a Mukhuri Regional Park, which covers 9,000 hectares of forest area.
“In close cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and Agriculture of Georgia, the Council meets twice a year with the involvement of partners working in the field,” said Nana Janashia, CENN Executive Director. “The aim of the project is the sustainable management of forests and watersheds, the emergence of sustainable energy solutions in rural areas, and the diversification of income sources for the rural population. We consider it important to have this Civic Committee and Forest Working Group, as we believe that this Civic Council will become a tool for monitoring the Rural Development Strategy.”
The participants heard about the updated plan of the Multinational Forest Working Group, which includes a wide range of activities for 2021-2024 and is based on the sectoral priorities of the “Green Budget Project” approved by the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources of the Parliament of Georgia.
“We are moving towards Europe and fulfilling our European obligations,” said Giorgi Khanishvili, Deputy Minister of Environment and Agriculture of Georgia. “Each model, used in Europe for development or coordination, must also exist in Georgia, and work just as successfully so that we can quickly cross the path that separates us from EU membership. The country needs to get rid of the feeling that the forest is just firewood. It is important to see how a village can get more and more modern civil benefits from the forest.”
The meeting was attended by the Head of the Tbilisi Office for Development Cooperation, Alexander Karner, The Head of the Department of Biodiversity and Forestry, Karlo Amirgulashvili, representatives of the Ministry of Environment and Agriculture of Georgia, and the private sector.
“On behalf of the Austrian Development Cooperation, we are really grateful to support not only today’s meeting, but also all of the progress that has already been made,” said Alexander Karner, Head of the Tbilisi Office of the Austrian Development Agency. “When we began to strengthen the National Forest Program, we knew at that time it would be a long path to tread. However, today proves that this support was worth it and that we must strengthen this process with a multi-sectoral approach. We have a lot to discuss and I am willing to support and overcome any challenges. I am happy that our colleagues were here today, as we have a lot to do.”
The seminar was held in a hybrid format and participants had the opportunity to ask questions remotely.
The “Sustainable Forest Management for Rural Development” project has been implemented by CENN with the financial support of the Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC) since 2018. The project aims to create an environment conducive to the diversification of local sources of income and reduce environmental risks through effective forestry improvement, sustainable energy solutions, natural disaster reduction, education, awareness-raising, employment opportunities for women, and effective advocacy.