Tbilisi to Go Green with a Smaller Budget in 2014

Tbilisi to Go Green with a Smaller Budget in 2014

The FINANCIAL -- A total amount of GEL 15 million will be spent on renovating parks and squares, planting trees and greening Tbilisi this year by the Ecology and Greenery Department of Tbilisi City Hall.

This year’s budget is slightly decreased compared to in 2013 (GEL 17 million) and increased in comparison to in the year 2012 (GEL 12 million). This year, the Ecology and Greenery Department of Tbilisi City Hall is not going to start implementing any large scale project because of the limited budget, according to Giorgi Korkashvili, Director of the Department.

“Before the budget was approved, we designed a strategy for greening Tbilisi in 2014 which needed GEL 18 million to implement. But Tbilisi City Hall was not allowed to approve the GEL 18 million budget and accordingly, several projects could not be implemented this year. For example, the reconstruction of the Red Garden and the Veteran’s Garden as well as the greening of the Opera Square were all planned. Out of them, only the Opera Square will be rehabilitated. However, we will still design projects for the other two gardens as well. We have already announced a competition for these projects. As a result the projects will be designed and it will be up to the new mayor whether or not to implement them,” said Korkashvili.

Planting 20,000 plants in the centre of Tbilisi and its surrounding areas, renovating Vake Park and Bukia Garden, as well as planting windbreakers, are the activities the budget’s money was spent on in 2013, according to the Ecology and Greenery Department of Tbilisi City Hall. Some of the projects that were started in 2013 will be finished in 2014.

“We started the rehabilitation of Vake Park in 2013, which was the most important project of that year. The rehabilitation process will be completed at the end of May, 2014. In addition, the Ecology and Greenery Department renovated Bukia Garden. This garden was in a deplorable condition and really needed our attention. Georgian architects designed a very nice project for Bukia Garden and it was renovated according to this project. The total amount that was spent on the Bukia Garden and Vake Park renovations was GEL 3.5 million,” said Korkashvili.

About 10 thousand plants have been planted in Didi Digomi to create a windbreaker. “This is a kind of plantation usually made up of one or more rows of trees planted in such a manner as to provide shelter from the wind. The same windbreaker plants are planted in the Varketili district and on the new highway which connects Vake and Saburtalo to each other. We have already started greening Tbilisi and planting very beautiful flowers in different areas of the city. The Ecology and Greenery Department also took care of the forests which are in the surrounding areas,” he said.

As the online mapping of Tbilisi is an ongoing project, it has still not been properly calculated what percentage of the capital’s territory is actually green. But in 2012, there was in total 270,375 sq.m of green area in the capital, according to data of the Ecology and Greenery Department of Tbilisi City Hall. The online mapping of Tbilisi will be finished by the end of 2014 and as a result Tbilisi’s green territories will become visible, according to Korkashvili. He believes that there are now considerably more green territories in Tbilisi than there were in 2012.

“Today society demands a greener Tbilisi. Whereas years ago no one cared about the environment in which they lived, now it is the opposite. However, unfortunately people still do not know how to take care of their city properly it appears. People think that everything should be done by Tbilisi City Hall and they do not feel responsibility towards taking care of the city,” said Korkashvili.

“A lot of money is being spent on restoring newly-built infrastructure in newly rehabilitated parks or squares. For example, many people vandalise and destroy benches or rubbish bins. Our department built a basketball court in Vake Park, which was then damaged before it had even opened! Unfortunately we often face such problems. People’s awareness should be increased and they should feel more responsible about looking after their city,” he said.

“I understand that to take care of the environment it is important to have good economic conditions in the country. When we mention examples of different beautiful and green cities throughout the world, we should consider that all of them are economically strong cities. But at least not destroying what you already have is a task that is very easy and does not require any additional finances,” he added.

The local self-government election will soon be held in Georgia. The new councils of the local government, Sakrebulo and the Mayor of Tbilisi will be elected on 15 June, 2014. From that time a new team will take care of Tbilisi.

The Ecology and Greenery Department of Tbilisi City Hall has renovated Mziuri, which was one of the most expensive projects as the park covers a very large area, 40 hectares in total. The rehabilitation of Mziuri Park took GEL 3 million from the budget, according to Korkashvili. Another significant project was the renovation of the Botanical Gardens. There were elementary problems to be solved like building benches and providing the park with public conveniences. Finally, the third most important project was the renovation of Rike Park and European Square, says Korkashvili. “It is a very attractive park for visitors because of its location. In general, Mziuri is the park most visited by Tbilisians as well as tourists,” he said.