UNDP, Japan, and Georgia’s National Forestry Agency Are Presenting a Manga Tale about Forests and Humans
Forest My Friend: Transforming Hearts and Minds for a Sustainable Future
November 25, 2022
Fostering a deeper connection between people and nature, UNDP, Japan, and Georgia's National Forestry Agency (NFA) presented the release "Forest My Friend", the animated manga tale conveying a simple yet powerful message: the forest is our friend, and its protection is a shared responsibility.
Drawing inspiration from the classic style of Japanese manga, this animated graphic novel captivates audiences from children to adults across Georgian society. The narrative unfolds a fictional tale of a human girl and a tree stump caught in the crossfire of the ongoing war between humans and forests. As the story progresses, the characters bridge their differences, embarking on a mission to rediscover the lost connection between humans and trees.
H.E. Imamura Akira, Ambassador of Japan to Georgia, remarked, "In Japan, people of all ages and walks of life read and watch manga. It is rewarding to see that in Georgia, this unique piece of Japanese culture serves to protect forests, reduce emissions, and counter climate change."
Nick Beresford, UNDP Resident Representative in Georgia, expressed his admiration for the project, stating, "It is lovely to see a message of peace and harmony expressed with such style. Japan's essential support to forest protection here, in Georgia, is brought to a wide audience in this wonderful manga cartoon."
Giorgi Chachiashvili, Acting Head of the National Forestry Agency, highlighted the crucial role of environmental education in the government's efforts to promote sustainable forest management. He emphasized, "Environmental education helps people explore environmental issues, engage in problem-solving, and take action to improve the environment."
Produced by UNDP and the Georgian civil society organization Democracy Lab (DemLab), with funding from Japan, "Forest My Friend" is an integral part of a broader public campaign advocating for sustainable forest management. Following its debut in Tbilisi, the animated manga will embark on a journey to villages, where UNDP, Japan, and NFA will organize film screenings and discussions tailored for schoolchildren and youth.
Georgia’s Climate Promise
Forests cover over 43 percent of Georgia’s land, providing clean water, fresh air, disaster protection, and livelihoods to millions of people. Nevertheless, this priceless natural resource is threatened by excessive use, illegal logging, and wildfires.
Almost three-quarters of Georgia’s population, particularly people living in rural areas, rely on firewood for heating and other needs. Unsustainable timber consumption reaches 2.4 million cubic meters a year, which costs Georgia around GEL446 million annually. Wildfires destroy and damage thousands of hectares of forest every year.
The adoption of Georgia’s new Forestry Code in 2020 marked the launch of forestry reform aimed at promoting sustainable forest management and reducing the risk of illegal logging and wildfires.
In 2021, Georgia adopted the National Climate Change Strategy and updated its Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement. According to this ambitious climate pledge, by 2030, Georgia will unconditionally reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 35 percent below the 1990 baseline level and will increase forest carbon capture capacity by 10 percent from the 2015 levels.
To assist the country in achieving these goals, Japan and UNDP work in partnership with Georgia’s Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, the National Forestry Agency, municipal authorities and local communities to introduce forest management practices that benefit nature, people and the economy.
With US$920,000 in funding from Japan, UNDP assists the National Forestry Agency in building, developing and improving Business Service Yards and ensuring that they provide quality services to local communities.
Three Business Service Yards will be established in Mtskheta Municipality offering an alternative to illegal logging to 43,000 people and providing easy access to biomass and sustainably harvested timber.
By the end of 2022, a new Business Service Yard will be established in Jighaura village and already established facilities in Dzegvi and Qvemo Lisi will be equipped with all-terrain vehicles and firefighting tools. Business Service Yards’ foresters and staff will undergo training in sustainable forest management. Vulnerable families from the nearby villages will receive energy-efficient stoves. Furthermore, UNDP and the National Forestry Agency will launch an information campaign to let people know why forest protection is so important.
This support is part of UNDP’s global Climate Promise initiative offering assistance to 120 countries and territories in achieving their climate goals. Georgia is one of 23 countries where Climate Promise is funded by Japan, the largest supporter of this ground-breaking effort.