Tag Archives: tree cutting

Why Are Trees Still Being Cut In Yerevan Parks?

Yesterday Hetq Online printed a disturbing, even perplexing report of trees being cut in Tsitsernakaberd Park, not far from the Genocide Memorial. Several lamps that light the walkways there were smashed as well.

Here’s the full report:

“I saw the smashed street lamps. When I looked hard, I realized that next to each smashed street lamp there are stumps of newly cut down trees.” This alert was raised by Tigran Mangasaryan, the publisher of National Geographic Traveler in Armenia.

He spends each morning in Tsitsernakaberd with his friends. For the past few days he paid attention to the smashed lamps along the street leading to the Genocide Memorial. “I saw dozens of stumps along the road and a small fire trampled under feet, nothing else, neither branches, nor chips, nor sawdust, nothing. I got the impression that somebody cut down the trees, took them away under cloud of night without leaving any traces. That’s why all the lamps are smashed,” Tigran Mangasaryan said.

The photos taken by Tigran Mangasaryan distinctly display all the traces of this crime. This material is simultaneously an alert for the RoA Ministry of Nature Protection . We think that the Ministry of Nature Protection represented by the State Environmental Inspectorate must examine this case and take proper measures.

Why are such things still happening? During the “dark and cold years” of the early 1990s while war was being raged in Nagorno-Karabagh and Armenians were contending with an energy blockade, people were burning whatever they could find to keep warm during record-breaking frigid winters. That included trash, plastic bags, books, rubber soles, and of course, freshly cut wood from parks and the forest on the Nork-Marash hill, which no longer exists.

It was regrettable that the trees were cut, and Yerevan citizens are still paying for their deeds today by living in a dusty city void of any decent parks containing no cafes and illegal structures. Yet gas lines supply residential buildings all over the city now.  It took a while but now there is no part of Yerevan–unless I am mistaken–where such lines have not been installed so that residents can install relatively affordable, natural gas-burning heaters imported from Iran.

Let’s say for instance that drifters or homeless people were responsible. If they were, they would also have some kind of semi-permanent shelter in the park, where there’s plenty of areas to take refuge. That means there would probably be someone hiding in the brush there who was responsible. But the article doesn’t mention that there were signs of such a scenario.

Second of all, that area is well-lit during the evenings, since they installed bright, modern street lamps nearby the Kievyan Bridge and Halabyan Street, so it would be difficult to notice someone who wasn’t dragging away trees, even during the evening with taxis and other vehicles racing around. Even if those responsible descended the other way down the hill near the Hrazdan Stadium they would have most certainly been seen. So whoever did this was either very lucky to have not been caught red handed or probably just lit a bonfire in the park. But if that was the case, why weren’t the smoke and flames detected, and how did they manage to control the fire so that the forest didn’t burn?

I don’t know if anyone in city hall or the police department is actually bothering to ask these questions or if this incident will ever be resolved. But I have a hard time believing that the culprits are very elusive.

Why Don’t Armenians Like Trees?

I’ve been disturbed for several years about the needless tree cutting that has been going on throughout Yerevan. Much of the time it’s being done by business owners.

Tree cutting in and around Yerevan in the forms of pollarding and pruning have been going on for the last two decades. The Marash forest that blanketed the slope to the west of central Yerevan was completely felled in the 1990s when desperate people needed to keep their families warm during a time when there was barely any electricity or other sources of fuel to be had.

But now, there’s really no excuse for cutting trees. Yet wherever you turn in this city, you’ll notice trees with branches lopped off them. Most of the time new shoots burst out from the trunk and in a few years they thicken. But some tree species that are sensitive to such drastic pruning measures simply dry out.

Municipal department heads have claimed on television and in print that annual pollarding is essential so that trees will not suffer from disease. Yet upon close inspection any passer by will notice that the branches are perfectly healthy. You don’t need to be an arbor specialist to realize that a tree shows no signs of decay when the pulp is white, wet and clean. This mentality is backwards anyway–you don’t need to and shouldn’t pollard as a method of disease control. Pollarding is only done in extreme cases and for only certain kinds of trees.

Yerevan’s a dusty town, and trees are essential for helping to filter out the filth. They also beautify the city obviously, and the more the better. But trees are coming down left and right. There’s been some tree replanting going on, for instance in Republic Square, but there the unique (I don’t know the species), healthy trees were removed to be replaced by common acacia trees. A couple of the original trees remain in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, though.

Protests by environmental groups are falling on deaf ears, and even news articles aren’t having much of an impact in stopping the madness. The Northern Boulevard is completely devoid of trees, yet there are some decorative shrubs  that could very well dry out in inclement weather (I believe some of them have already). Perhaps the underground garages there would interfere with the proper growth of tree root structures, which is the reason why they haven’t been planted. Or else, no one thought of it.

Regardless, tree cutting for the sake of building new restaurants and cafes has to stop.  When a member of parliament or someone close to government with lots of cash wants to build something, they chose their space and get to work, damn the trees and nature. It’s not clear what is being done with the branches, but something tells me it’s sold somewhere as firewood.

There are too many construction projects being undergone in green spaces, and once opened they are far from being full of customers in the summer months. The question is: when are citizens going to put pressure on City Hall to halt the cutting?