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In the summer of 2016, Dave Katz and Weston Forster of the Cornell Tree Climbing Institute, along with documentary filmmaker Ben Roif, traveled to the Republic of Georgia to explore and document at-risk forests. Over the course of six weeks, the team visited four distinct regions, from the Azerbaijan frontier in the east to the western region near the border of the Russian Federation. They climbed into the canopy of intact forests to test their canopy access skills and conduct basic feasibility studies, with the idea of developing a larger forest conservation project in the future.
The team climbed Poplar, Beech, Pine and Fir trees and recorded their locations. Spectacular specimens were noted as "Champions" for their position or shape and structure. Locally, the team collaborated with several conservation organizations including the World Wildlife Fund Caucasus, the Trans Caucasian Trail Association and the Agency of Protected Areas of Georgia, with the goal of beginning to understand some of the issues the forests face. Now that this initial expedition is over the team is now in the development phase of a larger project which would aim to continue exploration and documentation of these rare and endangered environments. Working with the solid contacts the team made overseas, they are in a good position to make progress towards the ultimate goal of preserving these beautiful forests.
The project was a collaboration between Dave Katz and the Cornell Tree Climbing Institute with support from the Petzl Foundation. Film by Dave Katz and Ben Roif; Edited by Dave Katz; Music courtesy of SoundStripe; Climbing, rigging and additional photography by Weston Forster.