Windbreaks have a significant positive impact on the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. While the positive impacts of windbreaks have been acknowledged by various stakeholders, due to Georgia’s poor socio-economic conditions, most existing windbreaks have been destroyed and require restoration.
Research identifies the need for state intervention in order to:
• Protect soil from erosion;
• Increase soil productivity and thus agricultural production;
• Regulate windbreaks so that interested parties can work within this field;
• Create a legal basis for fines for the intentional damage of windbreaks;
• Clearly define the duties and responsibilities of the stakeholders;
• Avoid adverse experiences (e.g., fires) from the unsustainable management of windbreaks, as in the past;
• Attract financial funding from interested parties (public and private sectors, NGOs, etc.);
• Allow windbreaks to be officially registered and have a respective status, which can lead to the more efficient management of windbreaks by farmers.
In order to achieve these goals, the Government of Georgia (GoG) developed a draft law on windbreaks which creates a legal basis for:
1. Windbreak inventory/planning;
2. Windbreak status;
3. Windbreak registration;
4. Windbreak rehabilitation and development;
5. Windbreak management;
6. Windbreak utilization;
7. Execution of fines;
8. Activities raising awareness regarding windbreaks.
According to the interviews conducted for this study, the major challenge associated with the draft law is the matter of shared responsibility, namely the successful interplay and engagement of the different governmental actors alongside their private counterparts, such as farmers and shepherds. Specifically, this refers to the division of responsibilities among stakeholders. Since the rehabilitation and management of windbreaks requires the involvement of the central and local government, as well as farmers and other interested parties, a clear division of responsibilities between stakeholders is particularly important for the efficient implementation of the draft law. Yet another challenge is related to the limited state budget for windbreak rehabilitation and management. In order to overcome this challenge, it is vital to maximize joint (public-private) efforts.