Georgia earth map (Source: Google - click to enlarge)
Georgia (Georgian: Sakartvelo) is a country in the Caucasus region, bounded to by the Black Sea, Russia, Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. It is a very mountainous country, with the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range forming the northern border. The country covers a territory of 69,700 km², being home to a population of almost 5 million. The capital Tbilisi is the largest city having a population of 1.3 million.
Georgia's forests cover around 2.7 million ha or 40% of the territory with an estimated total growing stock of 434 million m³. The forests however are threathened today: forest management and forest policy enforcement is weak, and illegal timber harvesting is extremly high (World Bank estimates: 2 million m² per year). Forests are exploited mainly because of the high demand for fuelwood from forests. Cheap fuelwood plays an essential role in Georgia (approx. 15% of the national energy consumption) and is increasing. Furthermore, tending and protection of forests has been neglected for more than a decade now, which is why the forest growth productivity is very low and also forest fires are increasing.
Because of its high diversity in topography, climate and landscapes, Georgia is one of the world's biodiversity hotspots, with a rich variety of unique forest ecosystems. Iinternational efforts are under way to designate a major share as protected forest. However scenarios for future timber demand and supply in Georgia prognose a continued overexploitation and an emerging huge deficit of wood resources. Local wood industries and wood products import-export have already largely declined. Intelligent, altenative approaches of sustainable resource use are critical and urgently needed.
Sources: AUG, FAO, ENPI-FLEG