Green concerns: Armenian environmentalists alarm forestland may disappear by 2020

Green concerns: Armenian environmentalists alarm forestland may disappear by 2020

Environmentalists alarm that tree logging has to be banned for at least five years.

The alliance of environmentalists of Armenia suggest authorities of Armenia declaring a moratorium for Armenia’s forests for at least five years, banning logging, otherwise environmentalists alarm woods would cease to exist in Armenia in 2020.

“According to the Forest Code of Armenia, woods of Armenia are considered to be protective forests for soil and water. The threat of desertification has never been as serious as it is now,” says Inga Zarafyan, head of Ecolur NGO. “It is also necessary ban business in this sphere.”

Environmentalists say that authorities argue with them, reasoning in case the moratorium is applied, it would burden socially vulnerable population living near forestland.

According to official data, forestland in Armenia covers 334,100 hectares which is 11-12 percent of the whole territory of Armenia. Zarafyan says this figure is the one known yet in 1992.

“The American University of Armenia held a research [from the satellite] in 2006, the results of which showed that the forestland in Armenia covers 7-8 percent,” Zarafyan says.

She says villagers tell how many trees are logged in which part of a forest, they recall how the logged wood is taken out of the forest by vehicles, how they are not allowed to enter those territories.

“It is clear that it is necessary to ban, but it is also necessary to take into consideration the fact that there are some regions with no gas supply, and people cannot get warm burning manure all the time. Maybe there should be sanitarian loggings, providing people with that wood,” says ethnographer Hranush Kharatyan, who held researches with "Hazarashen" Socio-Ethnological Researches Center among residents living near forestland.

Environmentalists also suggest that gas tariffs should be decreased for the population residing near forestland, because one of the reasons why loggings are increased is high gas tariffs.