The International Day of Forests is celebrated on 21 March, while 2018's theme is 'Forests and Sustainable Cities'.
The main problems of the forests in Armenia are as follows:
· Illegal felling,
· Lack of sufficient human, financial and technical resources for the management and supervision of forest sector,
· Lack of financing for reforestation,
· Permission of tree felling to develop business and infrastructures,
· Absence of forest inventory, non-in compliance with forest soils and cadastre maps.
Armenia is a low-forest country where forest cover makes up 11.2% under the official data, while the independent experts' estimates say it's from 7% to 10%. As a result of illegal felling, the forests of Armenia lost valuable tree species. Numerous high-value forests, which had been felled down after gaining independence, were replaced with bush forests. Degradation of forest areas has been observed.
'Forest is being exploited as a result of illegal activities. We should take business out of forests and reduce fuelwood demand in the near-forest communities through the introduction of energy-efficient technologies, increase in people's income so as they are able to ensure heating through other energy sources,' RA Nature Protection Minister Artsvik Minasyan said in his interview with the journalists at the event dedicated to the World Day of Forests.
In order to legalize tree felling a decision has been reached to increase the extent of legal felling. Under the official data, the volume of legal felling will make up 90.596 cum, which is higher 3 times than the extent of legal tree felling in recent 10 years.
Under Miqayel Manukyan, Chairman of State Forest Committee Miqayel Manukyan formed under RA Nature Protection Ministry, the increase in the extent of legal felling won't damage the forest. 'Legal felling aims to combat illegal felling: the number of legal felling spots is increased to boost income and to take care of forest. Insufficient felling is not good: if there is a tree subject to felling, this tree must be felled down. In recent years more trees have been cut down illegally than it will be cut down now legally. A really multilateral study has been carried out to select those spots, which are subject to felling and disturb the forest and its natural outgrowing, while in case of illegal felling people cut down trees wherever it's convenient for them,' Miqayel Manukyan said in his interview with EcoLur.
Under UNDP/GEF-funded “Introduction of Sustainable Land and Forest Management in Mountain Landscapes of North-East Armenia” project, Armenia annually consumes 1.5 million cum fuelwood. If the Armenian Government continuously increases the volume of illegal felling in the country to meet the existing demand of timber and to legalize felling, Armenia will lose its those forests, which don't have industrial significance but have protective importance.
Lack of Funding and Resources
In the recent 10 years, the state budget hasn't allocated any funds for reforestation; even the funds levied to the state budget for illegal tree felling haven't been directed for reforestation. Over this period of time, reforestation has mainly been implemented with the funds of international organizations. Under the official data, during 2004-2015 forest cultures were planted only in the area of 3666 ha, support to natural overgrowing of the forest through mineralization in the area of 5786 ha, support to bush overgrowing in the area of 8124 ha and support to natural overgrowing through fencing in the area of 14032 ha. These works were implemented in 2004-2008.
Forest fires occurred two frequently in 2017. Under the data for 'Forest State Monitoring Center' SNCO, in 2017 there were fires broken out in 'Khosrov Forest' State Reserve, Vayots Dzor Region and Byurakan, where the total area burnt down made up 2922.316 ha. It should be mentioned that under the data provided by National Statistics Service, in 2012-2016 an aggregate area of 364.6 ha was burnt down.
Permitting Tree Felling for Business and Infrastructures
Officially 357 ha of forest should be felled down for the development and infrastructures of Teghout copper and molybdenum mine by 'Teghout' CJSC, instead 714 ha forest should be planted. Under the company's data, 562 ha forest has been planted, out of which 31 ha in the frames of orchard planting. The average intergraft has made up 61%, nevertheless, the planted forest doesn't really exist in several places.
SHPPs also don't perform any proper forest planting measures. Particularly, 442 trees have been felled down in the Arpa River basin for the construction of SHPPs, nevertheless, there wasn't any sufficient tree planting carried out.
Incorrect Cadastre Data
In Tavush and Lori Regions around 18,600 ha of community forests are mapped as other landforms in the cadastre maps. Meanwhile, 13,200 ha of non-forest land areas are mapped as forests. The same problems were recorded in Kotayq Region in 2010.
Recently a State Forest Committee has been established under RA Nature Protection Ministry to implement reforms in the forest sector and support its proper governance, which will be in charge of performing the commitment undertaken by Armenia in the frames of Paris Agreement on Climate Change, i.e. to make forest cover in the country 20.1% by 2050.
20:52 March 21, 2018