Georgia’s parliament has passed a law allowing the Georgian Orthodox Church to claim hundreds of hectares of state-owned forests around churches and monasteries across the country.
Seventy-nine MPs voted in favour of the bill and none against in a plenary session on Friday.
The law will allow the Church to claim up to 20 hectares of land owned by the state Forest Fund, the equivalent of around 28 football fields, around every church and monastery in the country. The Church will be granted ownership of each parcel of land upon appealing to the government.
The law does not apply to other religious organisations.
The bill was initiated by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture. In February, the head of the ministry’s Biodiversity and Forest Department, Karlo Amirgulashvili, told Netgazeti that they saw the need for the amendments after consulting with the Church.