In Georgia, over 60 per cent of its forests are situated on mountain slopes at an elevation of 1,000 m.a.s.l or higher (MoENRP 2015; MoENR 2010; Ulander and Ter-Zakaryn 2012). Forest ecosystems protect biodiversity, store carbon, and store and purify water. In addition, they provide benefits vital to human livelihoods and food security, including construction materials, fuel wood, food (mushrooms, nuts and berries), medicinal plants, and grazing areas for animals. The ability of trees to prevent soil erosion and landslides is essential in the hazard-exposed mountains. The forests, however, are under constant pressure from deforestation. Deforestation rates were especially high after the collapse of the Soviet Union when energy shortages were common. Wood became the main source of energy for heating and cooking, and in rural areas wood is still used to reduce costly electricity and gas bills. Illegal logging for commercial purposes also remains a serious problem in the region (Ulander and Ter-Zakaryn 2012).
From collection: Outlook on Climate Change Adaptation in the South Caucasus Mountains