Building resilience in mountain ecosystems of Gegharkunik regionJun 2, 2017
Restored and newly established forest belts, rehabilitated pasture infrastructures, among which mobile paddocks with equipped solar power systems – these are some of the achievements of the Clima East Pilot Project in Armenia, financed by the European Union (EU) and implemented by UNDP, which aims to enhance resilience to climate change risks and impacts in mountain ecosystems and local communities in Gegharkunik region.
Today, Armen Harutyunyan, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Dmitry Mariyasin, UNDP Resident Representative a.i. in Armenia, representatives of regional and local community administrations, as well as media visited Tsovak community of Gegharkunik region to observe the newly established forest plantation site and to participate in the demonstration of the innovative mobile paddocks provided to four target communities.
The Clima East Pilot Project, in partnership with five communities in Vardenis sub-region of Gegharkunik region, planned to rehabilitate 2,000 hectares of pastures and 60 hectares of forests, in line with the project objective to introduce sustainable natural resource management practices in mountain ecosystems of Armenia.
“The mountain ecosystems in Gegharkunik region have suffered from severe degradation and deforestation during the last decades, partly due to the socio-economic situation in the country. With the generous financial assistance of the EU, UNDP supports the local communities to manage pastures and forests in a sustainable manner, such as through the establishment of community-managed forest plantations. We also introduce new, innovative models to handle community livestock for low-to-middle-income households. All these measures will enhance the resilience of mountain ecosystems to climate change impacts,” said Dmitry Mariyasin, UNDP Resident Representative a.i. in Armenia.
“Environmental and climate challenges are transboundary interdependent by nature, and therefore require a holistic approach to address them. Given the geographic proximity of the EU and Eastern Partnership countries and their shared environmental assets, strengthened transboundary cooperation and joint action on air, forests, land and soil, nature and biodiversity and water resources are needed. This project inscribes itself in this context. It has helped adopting sustainable natural resource management practices adapted to the adverse impacts of climate change on mountain ecosystems of Armenia. These practices ensure ecosystems integrity and sustained provision of ecosystem services in a long-term run, including carbon capture and storage. The pilot project is funded by the European Union (€1 000 000) and co-funded by UNDP ($100 000), that is also implementing it on the field”, the EU Delegation to Armenia remarks.
Rehabilitation of existing natural forests and establishment of new forest plantations has been on the focus of the project. The new forest plantation in Tsovak community will support the government’s plan on establishment of new forest belts in Lake Sevan basin. Over 18,000 of mature seedlings were planted on 18.2 hectare plot in 2015. It is expected that the new forest plantation will also provide additional non-wood benefits to local residents, who were heavily involved in this task over the entire period of implementation. The forest plantation will contribute to both climate change adaptation and mitigation.
The successful partnership between the project and local communities also resulted in the rehabilitation of pasture infrastructure: around 32 km of field roads in five target communities were partially rehabilitated to improve access to summer pastures, six new mobile paddocks outfitted with electric fence for cattle and shelters for farmers were established, two stock watering points and their water feeding systems being constructed. Introduction of improved pasture management system will facilitate access to over 5000 hectares of summer pastures. The implemented measures will significantly reduce the burden on winter pastures. It is expected that over the upcoming five years the winter pasture vegetation will be restored leading to up to 35-40 percent increase of productivity. The project also supported farmers in establishment of three local cooperatives to increase efficiency of pasture resources management.
The Clima East Pilot Project is a five-year initiative (2013-2017). It is part of a larger EU Initiative “Clima East: Supporting Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in Neighbourhood East and Russia.”
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