I took this photo along the main road from Tbilisi to Telavi. As you can see, quite many trees were cut down for making fire-wood. Energy is expensive and there is little of what one could call "ecological conscience".

In the mountains, the result of massive logging can be seen frequently - as on the following picture:

Georgian military highway near Gudauri

Especially during the early 90s, a high number of trees were cut down illegally. There is an interesting report of 1999 by the NGO "Grid" (based in Tbilisi) showing the increase of CO2-emissions in Georgia due to illegal deforestation and the decrease of forest planting and sowing in the `90s. The Georgian Ministry of Environment estimated the total amount of logging to be as high as 2.5 million m³ in 1996. This number seems to be heavily disputed though, as other sources speak of around 50.000 m³ "only". As with all illegal activities, it is impossible to calculate exact figures.

In 1996 40% of Georgia were still covered by forests, but illegal wood-cutting continues to pose a serious threat to the biodiversity of the Caucasus, as the WWF reports. With corruption beeing endemic, one can be sure that officials had and still have their share in illegal exports. (I remember seeing a drug-addict punshing the needle into his venes in the georgian border-post to Azerbaijan in 1998. Everybody knew one could by heroin there, so what else would you expect?)
The Georgian Times reports on illegal wood-export from Abkhazia by Turkish business-men. Since the rose revolution, the Georgian government takes a tougher stand on smuggling over the Black Sea, though.
So how about today? Well, I couldn´t find information about illegal timber-export since the rose-revolution. I suppose the amount has decreased but still poses a threat to the Caucasus flora.

Back to the picture above: The erosion which you can see was caused by wood-cutting. People pulled tree-trunks down the mountain slopes. Rain and snow did the rest.

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