- Forestry sector related highest formal education
- Forestry sector related professional formal education
- Forestry sector related non- formal education
- Forestry sector related in-formal education
- Public involvement and participation
- Agricultural university of Georgia
- Shota Rustaveli State university
- Telavi Iakob Gogebashvili State University
- Sukhishvili Teaching University
- Vocational College ”Horizon”
- Tbilisi State University
- Ilia University
- Akaki Tsereteli State university
- Technical University of Georgia
- Sokhumi State University
- Samtskhe-Javakheti University
- Gori State Teaching University
- Community College of decorative Gardening of Patriarchate of Georgia
- Vocational College ”Spektri””
Professional college "Horizon" Forest
Specialization - Forester (Woodcutters, forest taxation specialist)
Telavi Iakob Gogebashvili State University
Specialization - Forester (Woodcutters, forest taxation specialist) IV60 level vocational specialization
Akaki Tsereteli State University
Specialization – Environmental technician. IV60 level vocational specialization
Apart from formal settings environmental awareness and knowledge is created through non-formal educational opportunities that are aimed at different target groups and are offered by educational institutions, NGOs, International organizations working in Georgia and different governmental structures. Apart from teachers already mentioned above, other major groups that have been recently targeted by different environmental capacity or awareness building instruments include children aged 12-18, authorities in charge of environmental issues, business representatives, journalists etc.
One need not be a teacher at a school to promote love and awareness of biodiversity in children that will help shape children's values, perspectives, and understanding of the environment and help them develop into responsible adults. Children need to learn from a very early age that the environment has an impact on their lifestyle and quality of life and vice versa. Early environmental education is critical since today's children will be responsible for making decisions that will shape the health of the environment in the future.
Despite quite a number of extra-curricular projects for children initiated by different institutions, both educational and environmental, aimed at increasing awareness of the children on importance and conservation of biodiversity, the scope is still really little and the impact of the programmes can not be of big scale. So there is still much space for future interventions.
1. Since 2007 on the initiative from the Ministry of Education and Georgia and in partnership with universities a series of public lectures on a number of popular scientific topics, among them biology and geography, is being delivered at general schools all around Georgia. The project is aimed at updating the knowledge of natural sciences as well as making them more attractive and appealing to students. As part of the project the lectures and practical demonstrations have been delivered in Tbilisi, Telavi, Mtskheta, Gori, Kutaisi, Senaki, Rustavi, Akhalkalaki, Ozurgeti, Poti, Khelvachauri, Borjomi, Oni, and Mestia. The lecture series are mostly designed and targeted at the senior students but are open to interested pupils of other age groups as well. Thousands of pupils have attended these lectures during the five year period.
2. Another initiative by the Ministry of Education and Sciences of Georgia is a national awards initiative for school students called “Olympiads”. The Olimpiads cover a number of subject groups and is a country wide initiative allowing all basic and secondary school students to participate in it. Under the topic education for sustainable development the following areas were included: Conservation of the Black Sea coastal zone (Sarphi- Batumi or Supsa-Natanebi); Conservation and rational use of forests; Inclusion of local natural and historic relics into tourism development; Quality of environment and health, etc.
3. Ecotours and ecocamps have gained increasing popularity in Georgia during the last years. The goal for the camps and tours is to promote volunteerism and environmental awareness as well as knowledge of biodiversity and popularization of healthy lifestyle. The target groups of the various ecocamps have been Georgian as well as international students (e.g. Check Embassy finances Check students’s visit and participation in eco-camps in Georgia that are arranged by Agency of Protected Areas of Georgia (APA). The camps are financed from different sources by national and international organizations and initiated by APA itself, or other organizations working on environmental issues CENN, CARE, Scouts of Georgia etc.
In general, the number of students participating in environmental educational activities have considerably increased in recent years indicating the increase in interest on the part of the students as well as efforts and successful work in this regard by APA and other institutions active in this field. However, overall statistics are still low, representing only approx. 10% of all secondary school student population of Georgia. So there are more to be done in terms of quantity and especially quality to make the camps and tours more educational and informative and varied, and to turn the entertainment side of the projects into behavior change and functional knowledge and development of proper values and attitudes towards nature.
4. By the initiative of the Ministry of Environment Protection of Georgia a Green Youth Club was created joined by hundreds of young people from different universities and initiating and participating in volunteer activities to protect nature. However, the Green Club is not the only eco club in Georgia. Eco clubs are being initiated within secondary educational institutions by different Georgian NGOs (Green Movement, CENN to name just a few) and are aimed at raising children’s awareness on diverse environmental issues including climate change, waste management, watershed management, etc apart from biodiversity issues. What’s more the clubs help children become active citizens and implement various projects to protect environment around them.
The Ministry of Sports and Youth can also promote awareness and participation of youth in environmental issues because of its mandate. Environment was one of the Ministry’s “Children and Youth Development Fund of Georgia “ priorities for 2011 and 3 small grants were awarded to youth initiative groups to undertake community projects on environmental issues.
5. Museums and national parks, one of the major functions of which is educational portfolio, can have a strong say in environmental education and awareness rising. We have already spoken over educational and awareness initiatives (different awareness raising campaigns, public lectures, ecotours, eco camps etc.) National Parks that are part of Agency of Protected Areas network.
Tbilisi Zoo has an educational center for children “Metazoa”, aiming at environmental awareness raising and ecological education of children (age groups 5-16), informing and invoving different target groups into biodiversity conservation and supporting harmonious coexistence of humans and living nature (Metazoa Education Policy Document)
Since 2005 Department for Educational Programmes is working under National Museum of Georgia as well. The department develops programmes based on the museum collections and targeting school children. Museum has close partnerships with teachers and education experts. Museum initiated Interactive Dialogues on environmental topics that are regularly held at Chitaia Ethnographic Museum. The course is aimed at 10-15 year olds. The museum plans cooperation with the Ministry of Environment protection over environmental education.
6. TSU Junior University and within the University a School of Young Biologists aims at popularizing natural sciences among children by holding public lectures and practical experiments with the participation of secondary school teachers and students, to improve knowledge and skills of the teachers, and to lay foundations for research in young children.
Within the framework Junior University plans for student competitions and conferences, as well as open seminars in different regions of Georgia.
TSU, natural sciences department also arranges summer schools for senior secondary school students. This program provides students with a unique opportunity to obtain extra-curricular information about new scientific and technological advancements, interact with some of Georgian and non-Georgian top scholars and teachers, participate in real time experiments and projects. In 2011 the summer school covered 4 topics: environment, energy, materials and health as well as provided for a day meeting with CERN scholars, representatives with the teams of the following projects: “Promotion of Biodiversity through Restoration of Quarries,” Heidelberg Cement PLC and German International Cooperation (GIZ), participate in the IYC Global Water Experiment,” etc.
7. Target groups for adult education programmes implemented by a number of international as well as national organizations under different environmental projects have included public and non-public authorities, communities, journalists, etc.
Adult education is an area targeted by the Environmental Education Center under Ilia State University. It plans to start offering diverse certificate courses for the following target groups: general and higher education teachers, public servants working in the field of environment protection and natural resource management, managers and specialists employed in the private sector as well as bachelor and master students.
Some of the challenges identified by the “National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan - Georgia” adopted in 2005 were related to informal environmental education and assessed the latter as “unsystematic and fragmented;” problems were associated with mass media that “shows little interest in the environment and lacks specialist knowledge in this field;” Unfortunately, the same conclusions were made by a printed and online media monitoring report that was undertaken by IUCN/Programme Office for Southern Caucasus in 2010 , which indicates that problems in this regards have persisted through years.
On the other hand, as many sources indicate (NEAP 2012, SoE 2011, Alternative Aarhus Report by green alternative) the Ministry of Environment Protection of Georgia gives high priority to public awareness on environmental issues and several TV and radio channels regu¬larly report on environmental initiatives, high-level meetings, conferences media briefings of the Ministry.
The official websites of the Ministry and its agencies (especially, the websites of Agency of Protected Areas of Georgia and Biodiversity Service) and their counterparts on different social media (Facebook, Youtube, Myvideo, etc) serve as important sources of information about the Ministry activities and consequently cover diverse biodiversity issues as well. The websites of international and national environmental NGOs (e.g. NACRES (Noah’s Ark for the Re-introduction of Endangered Species) and WWF Cau¬casus Office, CENN, Green Alternative, , Caucasian Regional Environmental Centre, ECOVISION, Elkana, etc.) also provide wide range of information on biodiversity of Georgia and its conservation.
Info tours that are arranged by the Ministry and its partners target in many cases journalists to increase the profile and the quality of media coverage of environmental (among them biodiversity) issues.
The public relations activities of the Ministry of Environment Protection and its partners and sometimes other governmental bodies (e.g. Mayor’s Office of Tbilisi) serve as sources for public awareness as well as are aimed at making public behavior more environmentally friendly and include, but are not restricted to different outdoor campaigns (Hour of Garden Birds, Red List, Tree-planting, Clean-up campaigns, etc.), social advertisements on TV and Radio, adventure tours, art exhibitions, outdoor billboards, etc. The target groups can be really wide varying from children to adults, from policy makers to NGOs, journalists and international community. The Ministry of environment protection as well as most of the environmental NGOs support pub-lication of different informational and educational leaflets, brochures on various issues related to biodiversity.
Unfortunately, overall profile of biodiversity issues on TV and Radio is not really high, which as media experts explained is the result of low interest from the public. Biodiversity is only covered by limited TV programmes such are – Weekly, educational “ECOVISION TV Show” for youth (on IMEDI TV Since 2012 to 2014 and on GDS TV since 2014 to present); “Green zone” at PALITRA TV; GEO guide, a weekly adventure show on Rustavi 2 (the primary goal of which is to attract eco tourists and biodiversity coverage is a kind of second product, a side effect). A similar programme was also on Public Broadcast project “A Traveler’s Diary.” Besides, Radio “IMEDI” and, later on, TV “Mze” had a weekly pro¬gram “Green Broadcast” led by the Minister Goga Khachidze himself that could have been a potential platform for biodiversity awareness rising. environmental issues are regularly covered by one-hour long programme on Radio 1 “Ecometer.” We can gladly note that kid television “Enki-Benki” beside including some of biodiversity issues in other educational programs, offers “Zoo-TV” that covers issues related to domestic and wild animals, Red List species, friendship with animals etc. (Enki-Benki, Program Annotation). In future the TV plans to broaden its environmental education profile.
Considering the fact that the majority of population of Georgia and especially those in the regions use TV (and radio) as primary source of information, the resources in this regard should be better exploited. Internet media being second most popular and fast growing in media communications can be also a powerful ally in educating the public on biodiversity issues.
Summary of the problems
- With no quantitative formal evaluation of knowledge on biodiversity issues experts still and assess public awareness in this regard as low;
- Formal education on biodiversity issues has strong structural background (in terms of curricula). However, more needs to be done to have it institutionalized in the classroom. Particular attention in this regard should be paid to teacher trainings and preparation of teaching and informational materials;
- Internet is by far the broadest and cheapest informational resource, so internet access and proper skills of the teachers and students to use those resources should be ensured.
- More attention should be paid teaching sustainable development principles related to biodiversity at higher and vocational educational programs that have indirect or direct contact with natural resources (specifically agriculture, tourism, production etc.).
- Non-formal platforms for biodiversity teaching and awareness rising should be exploited more. The scope as well as quality (how well the biodiversity issues are covered, how the knowledge can be turned into behavior change) still needs to be improved.
- Sustainability of non-formal platforms of environmental education should be carefully considered. At present, most of the providers of environment education are nongovernmental organizations that will stop provision as soon as the specific project funds are have finished. It is important to channel the efforts and funds towards capacity building of more sustainable educational platforms such as museums, national parks, schools and other institutions having educational components;
- Informal environmental education is still unsystematic and fragmented, however the Ministries of Environment Protection and Education and Science of Georgia are working on EE strategy that will make environmental education more planned and focused on specific goals;
- The media shows little interest on biodiversity issues and still lacks skills to successfully handle the issues in this field; More should be done to use broadcast and internet media resources;
Public involvement and participation
Public participation in the forest related decision-making process
The legislative framework and mechanisms for implementation of the laws
Articles 6 and 7 of the “Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters “ (Aarhus convention) are related to the public participation activities in the implementation of the decision-making process and the plans, programs and policies that are related to the environment.
Under the Georgian law on “Environmental Protection” as the basic principle of environment protection is determined “public participation in decision-making principle”. Residents have right to participate in the discussion of the important decisions related to the environment protection and in the decision-making process (Article 5).
The most important issue for the NGOs and public is the reform of the forestry sector and development of new forestry legislation. During the interview with representatives of various nongovernmental organizations there wwas one positive issue stressed: the readiness for, and and often initiation of the individual consultations and public discussions by the National Forest Agency. The issue of the draft laws on forest should be mentioned as examples. These documents were originally published in English, which was major impeding factor for the various interested parties. Following the request the bill was translated into Georgian language.
Experts believe it is necessary to identify all possible stakeholders, conduct stakeholder analysis and involvement of each of them in different issues and decision-making processes in order to be able to take into account opinions of all parties. This is the was which can guarantee better planning and decision-making processes.
It is necessary to strengthen the cooperation between government and non-governmental sectors, exchange of information and recommendations, in order to increase the importance of biodiversity conversation, protect the principles of sustainable development of environment.
Community involvement in the issuance of individual normative acts by the executive authorities is regulated with “General Administrative Code”, in which the administrative body must ensure putting the working version of the individual legal act on the website, and submission of comments by the public should be made within 20 days.
The laws regulate the public participation in the decision-making process for the approvals of the management plans related to the using of biological resources.
According to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Recourse Protection of Georgia, public participation is not strong in the forest management plan discussion. The reason is the following circumstances:
- The information about posting the draft management plan on the website is not spread;
- Deadlines for submission of comments from interested parties are a tight;
- Information about the management plans which are posted on the website is not available for the municipalities;
- Management plan discussions are held in Tbilisi, and that’s why the local community is limited to participate even in case they have information on it.
From 2009 to 2012 39 public hearing of forestry plans were conducted. 8 of them were attended by the representatives of the sectoral services of different Ministries, license holders and authors of the draft forest use plans. Besides there were representatives from NGOs and scientific institutions (Green Alternatives, the environmental movement of Georgia, the Foundation “Caucasus Environment”, Association “ELKANA”, WWF Caucasus Programme Office (WWF Caucasus), University of Agriculture, Gulisashvili Forest Institute, Kanchaveli Institute of Plant Protection, and others). On the basis of the results of the above mentioned public hearings 7 draft forest use plans were returned to the author for its re-processing, and only one had a negative conclusion .
In accordance with Article 14 of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the parties of convention should provide opportunity for public participation in environmental assessment of the project, which may cause adverse impacts on biodiversity. According to the Georgian legislation such right of community is determined by the law about “Environmental Impact Permit” (2007). According to the law the necessary part of the procedure on Environmental Impact Assessment is public participation in decision-making process. According to the statute on “Environmental Impact Assessment” (approved by the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia, May 5, 2013, Order #31), in order to obtain a permit the data on publica participation, indicating major differences has to be submitted along with theEIA report and other documents .
In accordance with Article 6 of the Law, the performer is obliged to arrange a public hearing before submitting EIA to the administrative authority for issuing permits. Information about the planned activities should be published in the central and regional/local administrative gazette, where the implementation of activities is planned.
- Information about the planned activities includes:
- The objectives of the planned activities, their name and location;
- Address, where public representatives will be able to learn about the documents related to the planned activities (including EIA reports);
- Deadline for submitting opinions;
- Time and place for the arrangement of EIA for public hearing.
The performer of activity receives and revises the comments and proposals submitted in written form by the community representative within 45 days of publication the information about the planned activities . Not earlier than 50 and not later than 60 days after publication of information about planned activities, the performer arranges the public hearing of the EIA reports. A public hearing will be held in the center of the administrative unit where activities are planned. Taken into account all comments the final version of EIA report is prepared. In case of disregarding the comments and proposals, the performer should provide written justification and send them to the author of comment. Any resident has right to attend the EIA’s report public hearing. The information in the EIA report is public, except for the part, which was previously filed a statement of confidentiality.
Environmental impact assessment reports and relevant information about the public hearing shall be posted online, on the website of the Environmental Information and Education Center of the Ministry (formerly on the Aarhus Center website).
Accirding to the Georgian legislation EIA is necessary only for activities defined by “Environmental Impact Permit” law. The list of activities does not include a range of activities, which are indicated in the Annex to the Aarhus Convention. In addition, the Georgian law on “Environmental Impact Permit” allows to release the activities from EIA, if the common national interest requires beginning the activities and making decision on it in time (Article 11). In this case the public is no longer part of the decision-making process.
Environmental Information and Education Center (EIEC) monitors public participation in the environmental impact assessment and decision-making process. The observer reports about the Environment Impact Assessment and public participation in decision-making process are posted on the website of the Center (after the 2007, formerly on Aarhus Center website). The main barriers of public participation are:
- Legislative gaps;
- Lack of the political will;
- Lack of financial resources;
- Mutual distrust;
- Low public awareness;
- Low environmental awareness of the performer.
According to Georgian law about “Protected Areas System” (1996) the residents and the representatives of public organizations have the right to participate in the process of establishment, development, reduction and revocation decisions, in the review and amendment of management plans, regulations of Protected Area Administrations and other documents, and also in activities related to caring and management of the protected areas and buffer zones (Article 22).
In accordance with the requirements of Article 21 of the Georgian law about “Protected Ares System” and the typical provision of the Agency of Approved Protected Areas of the of the territorial administration (the order of the Minister of Environment Protection and Natural resources of July 1, 2011) , in order to cooperate with local authorities the scientific-advisory councils are created at the administration of Protected Areas, which provide advisory and methodological help to the administration in the integrated management process.
In order to involve the population and to improve the protected area’s management, the Friends Associations are established for Tusheti, Vashlovani and Lagodekhi protected areas, consisting of the representatives from the local community, government, NGOs and business sector. The functions of Friends Association is to promote protected area’s management, raising the funds, carrying out the informative-educational activity, distribution of the literature, cooperation with various interested parties, etc.
Administrations of the protected areas conduct an annual poll within the local population, which allows them to reveal the level of public awareness and attitude towards the protected areas in the following directions:
- Public awareness;
- Fear and expectations towards the protected areas;
- Profit and loss;
- Social-economic conditions of locals;
- Participation in the protected areas development projects and management planning (whether or not people believe that they are involved in the management process).