Large wildfires ravaged the Dedoplistako district 'the wheat basket of Georgia' in the summer of 2015. They had their origin on farms, as farmers ignite crop residues to dispose of them cheaply after harvest.
A dry and windy summer, combined with high yields (large amount of crop residues) made the fires uncontrollable. They burned the majority of tree hedges in the Shiraki valley and spread into vineyards, pasture land, unharvested fields and protected areas.
In response to this crisis, the Georgian Ministry of Environment is drafting a law to prohibit crop residue burning in Georgia. For that purpose, Altus Impact is assisting GIZ in undertaking an ecosystem service valuation to assess the economic impacts of banning agricultural fires in the Dedoplistkaro District. The analysis will feature in the proposed legislation to ban residue burning.
Altus Impact is valuing both the costs and benefits of invigorating such a policy, focusing on soil fertility, the protection of remaining wind breaks (tree hedges), changes in hydrological services and carbon sequestration.
Financial analysis of "alternative uses" of crop residues are also being undertaken, including analyzing the feasibility of processing crop residues to produce much demanded fuel pellets and animal forage.
The study is undertaken as part of the ELD initiative.
"We enjoyed working with Altus Impact, both professionally and personally, in the context of sustainable land management in Benin and Georgia. Altus has delivered two very robust and strong studies. These documents now provide substantial information and a reference basis for our ongoing work to promote sustainable land management practices with decision makers at national and sub-regional levels. We look forward to working with Altus Impact on other projects in new territories."
Coordinator, Economics of Land Degradation Initiative