Georgia Republic: Economy Ministry to auction licenses for long term exploitation of forests

Environmentalists are unhappy, saying that the Government has again
turned a deaf ear to calls to involve the local population and civil
society in discussions. The Economy Ministry has only consulted the
Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources and the
public has learned about it from TV.

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Environmentalists have repeatedly expressed concerns about the
Georgian model of forest reforms saying it poses social, economic and
ecological threats. In an official appeal signed by CENN, the
Compliance Stewardship Council (CSC), the Greens Movement of
Georgia/Friends of the Earth Georgia, Biorhythm, the “Green Way”, the
Flora and Fauna Association and the Georgian Society of Nature Lovers,
the shortcomings of forest reform have been stated several times and
steps that should be taken by the Government to ensure safe and
profitable forest management have already been proposed.

One of the major troubles with the auction of the forests, according to
environmentalists, is that Georgia has not conducted a proper
inventory of forests which would allow the state to then monitor the
licensees’ compliance with their commitments. They have cited The
Forest Code of Georgia to demand that the Ministry veto the use of
forests until this has been done.

According to the Georgian Forest Code (June 22, 1999) forest management planning should precede all forest exploitation; this in its turn this obliges the Government of Georgia to ensure that the public and local population are informed of what is going on and can participate in the decision making process. Papuna Khachidze, Head of the Forest Department of Georgia, has told GT that they are working on this and the inventory will be completed by the end of March.

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more details....March 30th, 2009 at 9:28 pm

Tbilisi (GBC) – Logging licenses will be issued after the full inventory of forests has ended, Goga Khachidze, Georgian Minister of Environment Protection and Natural Resources, told GBC.

The exact date for inventory completion has not been set, but the government has already developed the draft project and is now working on its improvement, Khachidze said.

“The inventory process will last for three months and after this, the Economic Development Ministry will issue long-term licenses the duration of which will range from 10 to 20 years,” Lasha Zhvania, Economic Development Minister, said after his meeting with Khachidze.

The Economic Development Ministry suspended auctions for selling special logging licenses in December 2008. The last large-scale inventory of Georgian woods was carried out in 1989.

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