His father was a forester at Lagodekhi before him, he tells us over breakfast in the cabin, so he has spent all his life near the reserve. Georgians greatly value the passing of traditions through the generations conservation means the continuity of life for them. "Sometimes people cannot understand that we are still doing this job even though there is no money," says Vazha, "but I really have the feeling that I am protecting my fatherland, and this gives me a sense of responsibility."
Our descent is through a gathering storm, then a shower of hail. But it's not to be our last adventure. Throughout this journey we hoped to visit one more forest, the ancient yew trees at the Batsaris Nature Reserve. But the area is very unstable many refugees from the conflict in Chechnya live in the surrounding villages. Only on the very last evening does forestry director Giorgi Ichuaidze agree to take us into the reserve.
Yew trees are the direct descendants of the very first trees that appeared on this planet 150 million years ago. They reach a great age single yew trees many thousands of years old are found throughout Europe. But only in Batsaris does a whole forest survive, where the trees are between 1500 and 2000 years old.