Red Book Alert: Urbanization and changing biosphere affect Armenia’s bird population

Red Book Alert: Urbanization and changing biosphere affect Armenia’s bird population


Karine Danielyan, Silva Adamyan (right)

Environmentalists keep warning that more and more bird species have to be included in the Red Book every year because of Armenia’s changing biosphere.

Silva Adamyan, in charge of Bird Lovers’ Center NGO, told the press on Tuesday that if a decade ago there were 65 species in Armenia’s Red Book, that number has now reached 110. (Armenia boasts the total of 351 bird species.)

“The red-book number of species has increased considerably over the past years. Among the highly endangered species are the black vulture, the lammergeyer, the peregrine falcon, and several wader and water-bird species that are in the world Red Book as well,” she says.

According to Adamyan, the main reason for the decrease of bird species and their numbers is the change of landscape and natural environment in Armenia, as well as urbanization.

For example white-headed vultures, whose nests could be seen along the road to Dsegh (in the northern Lori province), have left the area unable to stand the traffic noise and pollution or find food,” says Adamyan, adding that birds mostly leave Armenia for neighbor Georgia.

In Syunik, which used to boast an extensive bird population, the natural ecosystem for both birds and flora is destroyed as a consequence of active mining industry.

“Mining explosions alone affect birds rather seriously,” says the bird expert.

Adamyan also points out that the increased water level of Lake Sevan has led to a big change in the list of bird species, because some of the coastal areas have become “good nesting areas, and also quite favorable resting areas for migrant birds”

However, Adamyan claims Armenia is also facing illegal export and sale of even red-book bird species.

“Our most recent information has it that Peregrine Falcons have been exported from Armenia to Iranian territory for $50,000. The whole deal is realized through Iranians, but we cannot say what the final destination is or what happens to the birds later,” says Adamyan, adding that they have turned to the ministry of environmental protection but with no result.

Environmentalists say Yerevan is facing a number of issues; urban development has affected the number of insectivorous birds, which are janitors of the kind, cleaning the air basin.

Ecologist Karine Danielyan, who heads the Association for Sustainable Human Development, says that whereas in the 1980s there were around 180 bird species in Yerevan, today that number has dropped to 160.

“The loss of trees we had in the 1990s first because of the energy crisis, then because of corruption, has reduced the number of bird species, while they are responsible for exterminating insects and pests; it means we have lost the sanitary role birds play in terms of cleaning the air,” says Daniyelyan, adding that the presence of a great number of crows in Yerevan, especially in the city center, speaks of the city’s poor sanitary-ecological state.

“All we have to do is bear in mind, that if birds are leaving our city, then living in such a place is bad for us, too,” she emphasizes.