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Threatened forests and current pressures

Fortunately, Armenia still has some beautiful forests and habitat worth protecting. The country’s forested areas are concentrated in the north and the far southeast areas of the country with very little forest area in the central part of the country.

  • Although in the first millennium, B.C. forests covered approximately 35-40 percent of the country, the destruction of Armenia’s forests has reached tragic levels. The loss of our forests creates multiple problems which directly affect economic and social well being in Armenia:
  • Increase in soil erosion, flooding, and landslides
  • Drying of local climate causing loss of water supply, desertification, and extreme weather
  • Reduction in soil fertility causing lower crop yields
  • Loss of biodiversity
  • Economic hardship from loss of forest products such as herbs, mushrooms and fruits
  • More severe impacts from existing air pollution due to lack of “natural air filters”

Further, forests (or lack thereof) in Armenia impact the world’s atmosphere. Healthy forests in Armenia bring benefits in protecting against global warming and climate related problems not just in Armenia but throughout the world. Conversely, trees cut in Armenia worsen the world’s climate situation.

With the loss of forests and the loss of their ability to regenerate themselves, comes increased desertification. In fact, the vast majority (81.9 percent) of the country (excluding Lake Sevan and dam areas) have been subject to desertification to varying 2 RIO+10 Republic of Armenia National Assessment Report, 2002

It is crucial to stop the trend of rapid deforestation. As it is the forests being cut right now will take fifty to one hundred years to regain their pre-cut state. We need to first stop the cutting then continue to restore the badly degraded forests of Armenia.

Although it is assumed that the greatest loss of Armenia’s forests occurred during the energy crisis in 1991-94, the cutting and devastation continue at alarming rates: according to World Bank estimates, Armenia’s forests will be eradicated in 20 years if cutting continues at the same pace.

Although forests have covered approximately 35-40 percent of the country in the first millennium, B.C., and 25 percent in the beginning of the 20th century, they have recently been drastically reduced to only 8-9 1 Report on Millennium Development Goals, Armenia 2002

Armenia’s forests are being destroyed!

Current pressures on the forests

An estimated 70% of wood cut in Armenia is used for heating and cooking purposes. Reducing the demand for wood fuel is central to protecting Armenia’s forests, but replacing wood with natural gas or other energy sources for heating requires an up front investment that most families cannot afford. The three main components of woodcutting include: official cutting, illegal cutting by business operations and individuals. Therefore, forest destruction continues to be driven by a combination of the high demand for cheap fuel and a lack of enforcement of forest protection standards. Corruption, illegal cutting and inadequate forest policies must be addressed.

See our approach page for how we are addressing these problems.

 

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Armenian Forests NGO
Arabkir 41 Street, 0037, Yerevan, Armenia
+37493414677
+37491436809; E-mail:
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