21 March, 2018

Natia Iordanishvili – “Whose forest is it?”

Have you ever noticed that children, who usually ask several questions a minute, almost never ask whose are the forest, trees, green meadow, beautiful flowers....

And if they do ask, then only to clarify that the forest is that of the Bruin, of Smily-Wily or of angry wolf. As a rule, they immediately have a desire that this forest belongs to them, these beautiful trees and fields also belong to them, and they should take care of them as best they can. They get angry when someone touches "their" flowers, trees, snips or breaks a branch, carelessly scatters colored papers from candy or ice cream, and the children run to us with tears in their eyes....

Then, being teenagers, we learn at school that the forest is the lungs of the earth, a source of oxygen necessary for our lives. And some of us consciously, and some of us just because it is fun, with pleasure plant trees and flowers, if there is such an opportunity.

And having become adults, we think that taking care of the forest is not really our job, and although we enjoy its beauty, benefit from it and even know its meaning and purpose, we think that taking care of it and caring for it is the job of a forester, a forest ranger, a botanist or at least the job of our neighbor. Some of us, getting bogged down in our daily routine, simply forget how happy we were as children walking in the forest, and while solving everyday problems, we forget the most important thing - to be #naturelover, to take care of nature and the environment, which automatically means preserving the environment necessary for human life and health, as well as a healthy future.

Despite the fact that the forest is "mine", I realized the importance of my profession quite late, not during my university studies or while working on my thesis - back then I enjoyed walking in the forest like everyone else, and I was a bit more interested in the hidden side of the forest world - the mysteries of life and development of trees. Later, when I saw that the trees I planted in one of the most sparsely forested and remote corners of Georgia were happy and growing, when after a few years I saw a completely changed landscape, ecology, microclimate and, most importantly, changed people - I realized that it is much more than just doing your duty well, it is much more than you can imagine, and it is the coolest thing a person can do for the environment he lives in, for the future he wants. We just have to try to realize that the forest is ours, everyone's, and it will always be an integral part of our lives and will influence it.

21 March was recognized by the UN General Assembly as International Forest Day in 1971. It was an attempt to sensitize the general public, to make people think about the importance of the environment they live in and how important every tree is to their healthy lives.

The first appeal was as follows: "Go to your nearest forest, public garden or park, enjoy the beauty, get energized by the trees and try to learn more about them."

Did you know that forests cover almost a third of the Earth's land mass and there are about 60,000 known species of trees, but many species have yet to be identified?

These forests provide the food, water, clean air and ecosystem services needed every day for the survival of the world's 1.6 billion poorest people.

Two perennial trees annually produce enough oxygen for a family of four.

Forests improve water quality and circulation, help direct water flows, reduce rainfall and reduce soil evaporation;

Tree roots hold soil in place, reduce the risk of erosion, and help restore and maintain the ground cover that not only prevents natural disasters, but also provides us with food.

Forests in our country occupy almost 40% of the country's territory, and 98% of forests are mountain forests, which are located on steep slopes and have a special functional purpose (soil-protective, water-protective, climate-regulating, etc.). Fortunately, Georgia still has intact forests and represents one of the most important ecosystems in the world in terms of biodiversity.

As the great Georgian forester Solomon Kurdiani said, "the abundance of forests is an indicator of a nation's wealth, and their maintenance and consumption is an indicator of a nation's culture". Therefore, let us try to learn from children and remember that the tree that stands behind the fence of our yard fulfils the same function and has the same value as a hundred-year-old linden tree planted in our yard by our grandfather when he was a child, or small saplings planted by us to decorate the yard.

And let's also remember that, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), every year the forest cover on Earth decreases by 11 million hectares.

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