Protecting Wild Life: Specialists note progress in Armenia efforts

Thanks to the expansion of special conservation areas rare species of animal populations have grown in Armenia, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Armenia Director Karen Manvelyan told media on Monday.

“Within the last 4-5 years the boundaries of the protected areas have been expanded by 80,000 hectares, which is a very large figure for a small country like Armenia, as it implies some special maintenance mode. The lands are taken from economic exploitation and given to special protection,” he said.

According to him, about 30 percent of the population growth is especially noticeable in the Armenian mouflon and bezoar goat species, which is due to the expansion and improvement of several reserves in southern Armenia, such as the Arevik National Park, Zangezur, Khustup.

“Now we’re working on a new project in the region of Tatev, which will complement the network of protected areas in the south of Armenia,” Manvelyan said.

Speaking about positive changes, the environmentalist also said that there has been a reduction of poaching.

“While 10-15 years ago our problem was poachers, now this concern has been pushed to the background as a secondary issue. Now we have a more serious problem, which is related to the mining industry and small hydro-power plant work,” he said.

According to Manvelyan, the mining industry results in the loss of habitat for animals, because of which recently bears and wolves often approach human settlements causing a lot of damage to local farmers.

Aram Aghasyan, the Head of the Specially Protected Areas Division at the Ministry of Nature Protection, in his turn said that the Ministry of Nature Protection constantly monitors areas which are allocated to the mining industry and carries out pre-tests.

“Today, there are specific ecosystem services, through which we assess whether the benefits from the mining industry years later would be the same or natural biodiversity is worth much more than the benefits of mining,” he said.