ENVIRONMENTALISTS DEMAND TO STOP ELIMINATING ARMENIAN FORESTS

Story from Lragir.am News:
http://www.lragir.am/engsrc/society21267.html
Published: 13:32:37 - 07/04/2011

To Ministry of Nature Protection RA
Ministry of Agriculture RA
Ministry of Territorial Administration RA
"ArmForest" SNCO
The State Center for Forest Monitoring
World Bank
ENPI-FLEG
GEF
UNDP
REC Caucasus
FAO
WWF

"We demand to stop eliminating Armenian forests. The official data
that our forests didn't get reduced, but increased, are not true.

According to studies based o space shooting, difference between
official data and independent assessments occasionally reach up to
70%. More or less data about unattainable forests coincide. These
forests have survived as sanitary felling hasn't reached them.

The Armenian Government declared about its commitment to international
processes connected with climate change prevention and takes part
in programs fighting against desertification and biodiversity
conservation. These programs are connected with forest preservation.

Nevertheless, the new plans of Agriculture Ministry represented by
"ArmForest" SNCO only speak about under-financing of forest sector by
30%. While a paradoxical solution is proposed - financing is needed
to preserve forest, while forest felling is needed to obtain financing.

For this purpose ArmForest intends to increase felling volumes by
several times, as if for fight against illegal felling, as well as to
introduce business programs for those who intend to make investments
in forest sector. There are also far-reaching plans to make attainable
forests unattainable, for example, by laying new roads or to make
transfer belts through which our forest resources will be taken away.

It's clear who will be these tender winners. We have already eye
witnessed such a process when fish was hunted in Sevan according
to business plans, which resulted in a huge lake remaining without
any fish, while now Nature Protection Ministry having approved
these business programs received another funding for fish reserve
restoration.

Government bodies must understand forest is not a source of funding -
a resource to be sold out to earn money, but a necessary condition
for survival. If we lose forest, we will lose everything - water,
soil and country.

We demand to solve the problem of forest sector financing not
through its selling, but through its preservation and increase in
forest territories. Grant and loan programs must be oriented in this
direction which are implemented in cooperation with international
organizations, including World Bank, GEF, UNDP, F~P~^, ENPI-FLEG,
REC Caucasus, WWF etc.

We demand to finally solve the issue of conducting independent
assessment and examinations of forest-covered territories, including
specially protected territories, with the use of contemporary
technologies such as space shooting.

We demand to stop all the plans in regard with forest felling till
reliable data will emerge.

We demand to comply with provisions of the Aarhus Convention "On
Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and
Access to Justice in Environmental Matters"

In this regard we demand for all documents concerning forest sector,
including those drawn up with the support of door organizations to
be transparent for public till their final confirmation. They must be
displayed on the websites of governmental ministries and departments,
or if these documents are developed with the support of international
donors, to display them on the websites of donor organizations.

Inga Zarafyan, "EcoLur" Informational NGO Nazeli Vardanyan, "Armenian
Forests" NGO Silva Adamyan, "Bird Lovers Center" NGO Hasmik Aslanyan,
"Shogher" NGO Greta Gabrielyan, " Ecological Academy" NGO Levon
Martirosyan "Geofon" NGO Svetlana Aslanyan, "Center for the Development
of Civil Society" NGO 06.04.2011




From: A. Papazian