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Tbilisi City Council member, Aleksandre Elisashvili, on air on Rustavi 2, stated the following: “Each city measures its area of green space per capita. For us, it is two-to-three square metres per inhabitant and that is because Tsavkisi and other forests were recently added to Tbilisi. When a forest in Kojori produces oxygen, this is nothing significant for a person who lives on Plekhanovi, is it? We have two-to-three square metres of green space per inhabitant whilst the average European standard is 30-50 square metres per person.”

FactCheck

took interest in the accuracy of the statement.

In order to determine the green cover per capita ratio, FactCheck contacted the Head of the Ecology and Green Space Service of Tbilisi City Hall, Nino Sulkhanishvili. In her interview with FactCheck,

Ms Sulkhanishvili underscored that the real ratio of green space per capita has not yet been determined. At the present moment, there is ongoing work on a general plan for Tbilisi which will include this indicator.

In regard to the European standard; that is, the amount of green space per capita, Nino Sulkhanishvili told us that she was not aware of such a standard. She added that one of the recommendations in regard to a city’s green space is the creation of small recreational zones positioned every nine-to-ten minutes in pedestrian zones where people can sit and relax.

According to the Soviet standard, a city of 500,000 residents was to have had a ratio of green space per capita of 15 square metres per person. However, this requirement was not fulfilled under Soviet rule.

The highest ratio of green space per capita in Tbilisi was registered in 1983 when it was 13 square metres per inhabitant. Of note is that stock taking of green space in Tbilisi has not been carried out since 1988. However, according to the information of Tbilisi City Hall, the green space per capita was 5.6 square metres in 2001. There are no updated data after that time.

FactCheck contacted the author of the statement, Aleksandre Elisashvili, for additional information. Mr Elisashvili said that his statement was based on Tbilisi City Hall’s Environment Protection Strategy for 2015-2020. The document’s information corresponds to the data obtained by FactCheck

although it says nothing about the ratio of green space per capita or what the European standard is in this regard.

Different world organisations also measure cities’ green space. One of the research studies in this regard was conducted by the Siemens Group (Green City Index). The authors of the research selected cities based upon their area and the number of residents and created an indicator which measures a city’s ‘greenness’ using approximately 30 benchmarks. The indicator includes CO2 emissions per capita, energy, buildings, land management, transport network, water and sanitary systems, waste management, the level of air pollution and environmental protection. However, the research does not measure the green space per capita ratio. FactCheck looked at other research studies as well although we could not find a similar standard or organisation which determines the green space per capita ratio. Nevertheless, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation

does indicate that the green space per capita ratio for a city should be at least nine square metres per person.

According to the document

drafted by the Research Department of the Parliament of Georgia, the average green space per capita is 35.5 square metres in the larger cities of the Council of Europe’s 31 member countries.

If we look at the leading countries in terms of green space per capita, we will see that Vienna is the greenest city in the world

where green space per capita is 120 square metres. In Singapore, it is 66 square metres, in Stockholm 87.5 square metres, in Amsterdam 45.5 square metres, in London 27 square metres and in Istanbul 6.4 metres. The lowest green space per capita is registered in Tokyo and Buenos Aires – each with 1.9-3 square metres per inhabitant.

If we look at Tbilisi’s green space using the World Health Organization’s recommendation, we can conclude that our green space per capita, which does not exceed four-to-five square metres, is very low.

Conclusion

According to 2001’s data, Tbilisi’s green space per capita was 5.6 square metres per inhabitant. More recent data are not yet known although this indicator has presumably worsened.

In regard to the European standard in terms of green space, FactCheck

determined that no strictly defined standard is in place and only recommendations have been given. One of these recommendations was issued by the World Health Organization according to which green space per capita should be at least nine square metres.

According to a document prepared by the Research Department of the Parliament of Georgia, the green space per capita in the Council of Europe’s 31 member countries is 35.5 square metres. The world’s developed countries are oriented toward enlarging recreational zones in cities to a maximum possible extent. In such countries, the green space per capita fluctuates between 27-120 square metres per inhabitant. Tbilisi’s figure, which is approximately four-to-five square metres, does not meet the World Health Organization’s recommendation and significantly lags behind the average numbers observed in European cities.

FactCheck concludes that Aleksandre Elisashvili’s statement is TRUE.