Public Defender Echoes Davit Songhulashvili’s Initiative concerning Felling

The Public Defender considers that the legislative initiatives concerning green plants, given the capital’s grave situation, should be aimed at protecting green cover as much as possible and not at worsening the situation.

A legislative proposal of the development company "m2 Real Estate” was registered in the Parliament on December 15 (Thursday), at the end of 2016, and its main aim was to simplify felling in the capital. The Bureau of the Parliament made a decision with regard to the legislative proposal on the following day, December 16 (Friday) and instructed three committees to review it. On December 20 (Tuesday) the issue was put on the agendas of 2 committees. They supported the proposal, which states that: "The territory of Tbilisi is mainly covered with green plants. Accordingly, if there is no opportunity to cut down trees, implementation of large projects that can bring positive economic outcome for the country will be significantly impeded and it will be impossible to develop the territory for the construction of buildings.” The legislative proposal was considered and approved by the Parliament in a very short period of time, after which, on December 22 (Thursday) MP Davit Songhulashvili’s initiative concerning felling was registered in the Parliament. The legislative proposal was turned into a bill in about a week. Due to the public outcry, consideration of the bill slowed down and today, on March 7, 2017, and the leading committee (Environment and Natural Resources Committee) is discussing the bill in the first hearing.

According to the bill, the amendments will be made to the Law on Special Protection of State Forest Fund and Green Plants in and nearby Tbilisi. It should be noted that the law contains very few safeguards against the destruction of green cover of the capital. Specifically, only one measure is envisaged during felling, that is payment of a certain amount of money to compensate for the affected biodiversity. The law does not provide for any other measure. Davit Songhulashvili’s initiative provides for the abolition of compensation, the only protective mechanism, in certain cases. The bill also fails to solve the problem of proving the impossibility of healing the damaged trees.

Under the circumstances when the situation is very grave in the capital in terms of green cover and generally, ecology, and when construction of new buildings endanger the remaining green areas, the Public Defender considers that the Parliament should, first of all, pay attention to the protection of environment and should adopt new regulations by taking into view the realization of the right to live in a healthy environment.

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