Armenia, 5 June 2020 - Almost thirty-thousand-hectare wood lies in a two-thousand-meter high area of what is known as the “Noyemberyan forestry enterprise”, the branch of HayAntar (ArmForest) in Armenia’s Tavush region. Oak trees, ashes, hornbeams, beech, wild pear and apple trees – green legacy that has been carefully kept intact for decades.
“Forests are a valuable asset to humankind”, says Volodya Gharagyozyan (known as Moso), senior forester. “Trees are just like humans։ they require love and care”. He has been working in the forestry for 40 years, which makes him the eldest and most experienced forester in the area. He knows every tree in the forest and has given life to many, like this young oak which grows inside a dead tree.
Not only does Moso work hand in glove with 7 other foresters to teach them the peculiarities of this difficult job but he also leads forest restoration projects. In the last few years, community-based forest management has been promising to make the forest’s condition better. “Forest conservation and restoration also means direct jobs and socio-economic benefits for local communities”, Moso says.
120 people from 10 neighboring rural communities have been tirelessly germinating seeds and planting small trees to help the environment. The idea entails expanding the area of Noyemberyan forestry by planting 3,000 trees per hectare. Given that every tree requires 4-5 years of regular care until it becomes solid in soil, creating new green spaces means a lot of work showing results in the next ten years.
In fact, groups of people with simple tools, like shovel and hoes can plant 250 on average in a single day. In return, people are entitled to permanent job and access to forest products.
“This work complements my monthly income”, says Svetlana Sahakyan, who joined the tree planting group three months ago. “I am happy with my job even though it is difficult to work under the burning sun and pouring rain”, says another worker, Arevhat Grigoryan. As to the question what she likes the most about her job, she proudly says, “It is my absolute pleasure to realize that I do good for nature and humankind”.
Fostering natural forest regeneration is another initiative Moso and his peers have been involved in for the previous two years. Its apparent success is about making the forest ecosystem stronger and more resilient by creating diggings under trees. This makes a sustainable environment for tree seeds to fall to the ground and grow naturally.
To exclude livestock grazing near such sites and keep them away from these regenerants, forest workers erect fences to restrict and limit cattle movement.
Tree planting and restoring forests helps local communities to have sustainable jobs. Above all, as one of “EU4Climate” EU-UNDP programme components underlines, forest recovery and regeneration also contributes to climate change mitigation by reducing the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from other sectors. Human intervention and sustainable management may be key in maintaining of a functioning forest ecosystem. And it is important to understand that biodiversity preservation and climate crisis are correlated and having community-managed forests and protected areas has become a matter of survival. It has become a matter of sustainable life we all want future generations to have.
EU4Climate helps governments in the six EU Eastern Partner countries, including Armenia, to act against climate change. It supports countries in implementing the Paris Climate Agreement and improving climate policies and legislation. Its ambition is to limit climate change impact on citizens’ lives and make them more resilient to it. EU4Climate is funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by UNDP.