Over 40 percent of Georgia’s territory is covered by lush forest, a priceless natural resource that provides a wealth of recreation, employment and economic activities. The European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are partnering with the Agency of Protected Areas of the Ministry of the Environmental Protection and Agriculture to help Georgia sustainably manage these forests, preserve biodiversity, mitigate climate change and create environmentally friendly economic opportunities.
Through this partnership, the EU and UNDP will assist the Agency of Protected Areas to improve management of 34,000 hectares of forests in the Algeti, Javakheti and Lagodekhi protected areas, develop forest management plans, train and equip rangers and establish ecotourism services. In addition, the EU and UNDP will help create a multi-language mobile application to provide tourists with information about all protected areas in Georgia.
The 14-month EUR 211,000 support draws on the resources made available under the EU-funded European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD) programme, which is assisting Georgia to reform and modernize its national approach to rural development.
On 22 September, representatives from the Ministry of the Environmental Protection and Agriculture, the Agency of Protected Areas, EU and UNDP visited the Lagodekhi National Park. The delegation met with park administration and rangers and visited several locations where the EU and UNDP will help develop tourism infrastructure.
“Georgia adopted a new Forest Code last year to ensure that all forests — regardless of their status or ownership — are managed according to sustainable development principles. Hands-on initiatives that are focused on environmental, economic and social benefits will help us put this important legal framework into practice,” said Otar Shamugia, Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture.
“Forests are central to the European Green Deal, which recognizes the role of the entire forest-based value chain in achieving a climate-neutral economy and in nurturing lively and prosperous rural areas. The EU is supporting Georgia’s introduction of effective mechanisms for sustainable forest management to benefit both the economy and the environment,” stated Ketevan Khutsishvili, Programme Manager for Rural Development, Civil Protection and Crisis Management of the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia.
“Over the past year, forest fires raged across the world. The devastation has signalled the urgent need to restore, conserve and preserve this essential natural resource that serves as a climate-stabilizing force. UNDP is committed to helping Georgia protect its forests, create sustainable economic opportunities for local communities and build a society where people live in harmony with nature,” said Anna Chernyshova UNDP Deputy Head in Georgia.
The EU and UNDP have been promoting and supporting sustainable rural development in Georgia since 2013. With a total budget of EUR 234.5 million, the EU-funded European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD) focuses on creating economic opportunities in rural areas, reducing poverty and promoting green rural solutions. More information on ENPARD is available at https://eu4georgia.ge/enpard/