ENPI FLEG program funded by a €6 million European Commission grant, is a response to the growing problem of illegal forest activities (illegal logging, timber theft and smuggling, trade of illegal wood, unauthorised forest conversion, unclear legislation, unclear tenure arrangements, lack of enforcement of forest regulations due to corruption). The overall objective of this three year (2008-2011) program is to contribute to establishing legal and sustainable forest management and utilisation practices, strengthening the rule of law, and enhancing local livelihoods in 7 participating countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine).
Today Georgia’s forests are threatened by unsustainable logging, unsustainable grazing, neglectful or environmentally harmful forest management practices and climate change. The effects of unsustainable forest management and illegal forestry activities include degradation of forest ecosystems and loss of biodiversity. This is especially disturbing, as out of 34 worldwide biodiversity hot spots, which include Caucasus, eco-systems of Georgian forest occupy distinguished place.
Degradation and loss of Georgia’s forests is caused by a large number of factors acting together in a complex system. International and domestic markets existing in Georgia is driven by profit and pays little or no regard to the environmental and social impacts of their activities. Rural households are driven by poverty, lack of alternative energy supplies and lack of alternative livelihoods to cut or purchase fuel wood and use forests illegally for grazing their livestock. National policy and programme for forestry and related sectors are poorly developed and legal frameworks are weakened by gaps or ambiguous in and conflicts between laws.
The country work plan for Georgia includes four sets of activities: 1. Raising FLEG awareness, public involvement in decision making and strengthening communication capacities of key institutions; 2. increasing national ownership and improving FLEG planning and monitoring by national institutions; 3. training and capacity building of decision makers and specialists from stakeholder authorities for improved forest governance and law enforcement, and 4. regional/cross country collaboration and knowledge sharing. For the implementation activities proposed by the work plan will be utilized different tools and instruments, such as analytical studies by the national and international consultants; trainings, conferences and workshops for the capacity raising of employees of state institutions as well as private companies; different kind of outreach events, preparation and dissemination of publications, which will raise general awareness of FLEG process, working with media; regional workshops, stakeholder consultations in cross-country settings and joint trainings, that will facilitate regional/international cooperation and information exchange. Regional collaboration on FLEG, which aim to eliminate cross border traffic of illegal timber are of interest to governments on both sides of the frontier. The available resources will be used more efficiently if the two customs and border guard services are able to coordinate their activities.
Donors: European Union
Project Partners: World Bank, IUCN and WWF
Project Duration: 2008 - 2011
Contact Person: Ekaterine Otarashvili