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Over 80,544 trees cut in Tbilisi in 2014-2016

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, May 17
“Around 80,544 trees were cut down in Georgia’s capital of Tbilisi in 2014-2016 as a result of sanitation cuts,” Tbilisi City Hall Ecology and Greenery Municipal Service said, adding that the majority of trees were cut in the Vake and Mtatsminda districts.

They say that this year, over 18,000 trees have been marked as dried and damaged, and will be cut down soon.

The Ecology and Greenery Service says that the cutting down of trees is carried out only after the phytosanitary monitoring by their contractor companies.

They also claim that from August 2014 until now, up to 670,000 different types of trees have been planted in Tbilisi. About 70% of them are deciduous and 30% coniferous.

“In addition, the contractor firms are obliged to take care of the new plants for four years and provide their maintenance,” the Ecology and Greenery Service said.

A Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), the Institute for Development Freedom of Information (IDFI), says that in 2016, five times more trees were diagnosed as “ill” by the Mayor’s Office of Tbilisi.

The NGO says that the recently increased statistics of ill trees raises questions how thoroughly the diagnosis process is being carried out.

The IDFI provided information according to which in 2013-2016, a total of 583 permissions were issued by the Mayor’s Office and 3,552 trees were cut down. However, only 827 trees were truly at risk.

The information also reveals that including August 2016, the number of ill trees in Tbilisi increased by five times compared to previous years.

“This finding raises questions about the integrity of the process of examining trees and declaring them to be damaged by the City Hall. In summer 2016, NGOs revealed a case of alleged violation with this regard,” the NGO reports.

Last summer, the IDFI asked Tbilisi City Hall to disclose information on the construction of residential and commercial buildings, permits issued for cutting down trees, income generated from such permits, and unlawfully removed trees.

The NGO says that by issuing permits on tree cutting, the Mayor’s Office of Tbilisi totally received GEL 1.947.282 income in 2011-2016. The highest annual income 666,778 Gel was observed in 2016.

As for construction permissions, in 2011-2016 a total of 1747 permits were issued by the Mayor’s Office, for the construction of residential buildings and multi-unit facilities.

Furthermore, the NGO underlined that in 2016-2017, the growing tendency of issuing construction permits has been observed.