Amid constant border tensions and attacks on Armenian territory, Armenia Tree Project realizes the critical importance of staying collected in the face of extreme provocation and continuing their mission to assist the Armenian people in using trees to improve their standard of living and protect the global environment.
This fall, ATP’s forestry division plans to plant 400,000 trees over 110 hectares in the villages and communities of Mets Sariar, Lerakert, Lernanist, and Urasar located in Armenia’s northern regions of Shirak, Kotayk, and Lori.
As usual, in addition to environmental benefits, ATP strives to provide economic independence to the local residents. The women and men who make up teams to plant trees are all from adjacent communities. This fall around 125 seasonal workers will be hired to plant the forests.
When it comes to selecting trees for forest plantings, it is essential to pick the right kinds of trees. Therefore, ATP’s specialists try to introduce only native species, including rare and endangered types whenever possible and cultivate a mix of species, as is found naturally. The main types of trees found in Armenia’s forests are pine, maple, oak, birch, as well as wild apple and pear.
All the territories selected for afforestation are degraded agricultural lands largely due to climate change and extreme grazing over the course of several decades. To prevent the further degradation of these lands, local officials obtain consent from the residents and designate the areas for forest plantings.
ATP conducts their own site investigations to determine if the area is suitable for forest planting. After which they hire an independent body to prepare the Environmental Impact Assessment which ensures that decision-makers have various data points, certified and independently reviewed when deciding whether or not to proceed with ATP’s proposed forestry project. Following the report, a public hearing is announced for ATP to address the community directly.
Two of ATP’s forest sites located in the vicinity of Mets Sariar and Lernakert Villages are in Shirak Region. The Shirak region is considered the poorest in Armenia. Difficulties in finding employment, the closure of local small businesses, and the struggles of the pandemic have made the socioeconomic situation dire.
The village of Lernakert, one of Shirak’s most vulnerable communities, is nestled in the mountains – quite far from the urban hustle and bustle of larger nearby villages. Located on the western slope of Mount Aragats, it is 6 miles south of the town of Artik, and about 22 miles from the provincial capital of Gyumri. The mountain life in the village is relatively quiet, particularly in Lernakert. The community was established in 1840 and was originally inhabited by refugees from Mush and Alashkert. Today, Lernakert has a population of around 1,500, making it one of the biggest villages in the region. The village houses a culture house, a kindergarten, a medical center, a community center, and a secondary school.
In addition, this year ATP has undertaken planting in another two forest sites, which include Urasar Village in Lori Region and Lernanist in Kotayk Region.
ATP is proud to assist in revitalizing Armenia’s communities. For years, ATP’s Community Tree Planting Program has implemented different planting projects in many rural villages across Armenia, which have included the distribution of fruit and decorative trees to local families, as well as establishing small community forests.
By planting forests in these communities, not only will ATP provide clean air, preserve groundwater, and reduce dust, but they will also contribute to the reduction of poverty in the area by the creation of new employment opportunities.
Each year, ATP has hired hundreds of seasonal workers to support its spring and fall fundraising plantings. To date, ATP has established over 1,200 hectares of new forest, improving and preserving Armenia’s environment and providing economic opportunities to many rural villagers who work for ATP during planting seasons.
All the lands selected for afforestation are forestless communities, all the lands we selected are agricultural lands, mostly pastures, but not suitable for rural use.
Since 1994, ATP has been using trees to improve the standard of living in Armenia and Artsakh, focusing on aiding those with the fewest resources. If you would like to support ATP”s forestry program please visit the website and note ‘Fall Planting’ in the Comment Box.
Armenia Tree Project, established in 1994, is a non-profit organization that revitalizes Armenia’s and Artsakh’s most vulnerable communities through tree-planting initiatives, and provides socio-economic support and growth. It is based in Yerevan, Armenia and has an office in Woburn, Massachusetts. For more information, please visit the website.