The Greens Union of Armenia is urging Armenian organizations to join the effort in preserving a natural preserve in Yerevan called the "Orchards of Dalma." The culturally important area covers over 530 hectares and contains 3000-year old water canals and underground tunnels and several rare plant species. 60 hectares of the orchard were developed during the Soviet period.
According to government documen’s uncovered by Greens–the Yerevan mayor’s office is inclined to develop portions of the remaining area. In 2000–former mayor Bazeyan submitted a letter to the state government outlining "a scheme of functional zoning." In it–the mayor proposed the construction of housing complexes–a golf course and a highway. The proposed development would cover over 120 hectares of land.
In another letter drafted during the same year–the mayor’s office requested that the ministry of nature protection allocate 10 hectares of the land for its use. Half of the area–the document noted–will be covered by a factory–which–when complete–will produce watch parts for the Swiss company "Frank Muller Armenia." If built–the factory would release harmful toxins that would have an irreversible effect to the local environment.
This year–on March 27–2004–the prime minister signed Resolution No. 1941-A–titled "About Changing Land Use and Borders of Lands in the Preserve of Yerevan’s Orchards of Dalma," which officially lifted any development restrictions on the region. The resolution effectively bars public debate over proposed projects.
Currently–the US Embassy of Armenia is constructing a site on a region of the orchard that is known to contain rich archeological diggings. The construction began after the US Embassy signed a private agreement with the Armenian government.
The March 27 resolution also impacts over 1800 growers–who depend on the soil for their livelihood.
The Greens Union of Armenia urges all Armenian organizations–particularly those that are active within the United States–to voice their concern about the destruction of the "Orchards of Dalma," by contacting Armenian government officials.
Representative of the Greens Union of Armenia in the United States–Dr. Anne Shirinian–can be contacted through phone/fax at (732) 462-9089 or email at [email protected]