PASADENA—The “Parsons” center was filled with environmentalists and concerned citizens as Armenian Engineers and Scientists of America (AESA), AGBU-YP, and Armenia Tree Project (ATP) hosted a panel lecture entitled “Armenia’s Environmental Challenges in the 21st Century” event on February 8.
“Our main goal is to raise awareness about Armenia’s current environmental situation and to make Armenia an environmentally progressive nation within the Caucasus” stated Jeff Masarjian, ATP’s Executive Director and Areg Gharabegian, Environmental Committee Chair of AESA, in their opening remarks.
ATP Forestry Director Zach Parisa, presented his research on Armenia’s forests as a resource to the country. He explained how forests play an active role in Armenia as part of a functioning community. If the forests are unstable then the communities become unstable. The key is sustainability and the only way to ensure sustainability is by not harvesting and bringing danger to an ecosystem so that those that come after us can’t reap the same benefits from it.
Armenia has had progressive policies created but is yet to implement them. In 2005, a legislation was passed that would allow communities to manage their surrounding forest areas. However, all forests are still state-owned and state-run.
Destruction of Armenia’s forests will quicken its progress towards a desert-like terrain. This increases soil erosion threats and decreases its ability to provide life to a very biologically diverse ecosystem.
Robert Kurkjian, an environmental scientist from New Jersey who has taught at the American University of Armenia, noted that one of Armenia’s rich resources is its abundant water supply. However, this does not mean that water is a free for all and should be used without management, supervision and planning, which has been the case for a while, especially in Yerevan.
Varouj Abkian, who is the technical services assistant director of the city of Los Angeles Sanitation Department of Public Works, and who is personally aware of Armenia’s water resources also relayed his concerns about this matter.
Jeff Masarjian presented research done by environmental scientist, Dr. Anahid Shirinian-Orlando. It expressed her concerns about the negative consequences the Teghut mining project will create. He presented pictures and statistics on Akhtala, a town found in the province of Lori, where an enrichment plant resides. This plant produces toxic dump, which contaminates not only the Akhtala and Debed rivers but also its surrounding land.
The event’s participants and audience all showed interest and willingness to work towards the “Save Teghut” project, especially one youth-oriented organization.
Members of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation’s “Shant” Student Association (ARF Shant) displayed and sold «Թեղուտ» logo t-shirts. All proceeds from the t-shirt sales will go towards Armenia’s “Save Teghut” project.
This is ARF Shant’s first step in this campaign. Next month, in Los Angeles an informational seminar will take place where threats to Armenia’s current environment will be discussed, especially, the issue of Teghut.