There is an excellent, concise article on Hetq Online briefing readers about the situation surrounding the threat to the Teghut Forest, located in the northern part of the Tavush region.
As you may know, the forest is scheduled to be felled in a business plan absurdly approved by Armenia’s Ministry of Nature Protection. Three organizations which will argue their case against the plan are going to court–they are the Transparency International Anti-corruption Center, the Vanadzor Office of the Helsinki Civic Assembly and EGODAR.
The article points out that 357 hectares of forest are to be cleared to make way for a copper mining project taken on by the Armenian Copper Programme (ACP). Many species of endangered wildlife that make Teghut their home have been cited in the “Red Book” published International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), and they even appear in the Armenian Red Book listing endangered species. Rare species of plants and trees will also be affected by the felling.
Here’s an excerpt:
Teghut and the surrounding area are home to several animal species listed in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red Book. There are also 7 bird, 7 mammal and 2 reptile species listed in the Armenian Red Book that make Teghut their home.
It should be safe to say that there is some kind of link between Armenian government officials and the management of ACP, as the Ministry of Nature Protection would logically never agree to such a plan assuming the people there were actually doing their jobs for the benefit of their own country, especially when endangered wildlife species are at stake. I can’t understand how that ministry would actually approve such a business plan that would wreak havoc on Armenia’s ecosystem.
Although that at least 1,000 people are expected to be put to work by the ACP, which I doubt will be long term, I can’t justify the further disintegration Armenia’s fragile ecosystem for the sake of business and employment.
Armenia Tree Project five years ago estimated that the total forested area coverage of Armenia was only around 6 percent. At the beginning of the 20th century it was something like 20 percent. By the time Armenia became part of the Soviet Union that figure dropped to 11 percent.
Armenia cannot afford to turn into a desert. The northern parts of the Teghut and Lori regions are blanketed by rich forests which are essential to the survival of Armenia’s ecosystem. The country’s forests have been suffering from illegal cutting to stuff the pockets of money grubbing oligarchs and greedy men in government for years. Can you imagine what Armenia would be like without forests one day? We can’t let that happen.