CAPITAL DESERT: ECOLOGISTS WARN OF NATURE IMBALANCE DUE TO OVER DEVELOPMENT

ENVIRONMENT | 28.06.13 | 15:33

Photolure

Silva Adamyan and Aram Aghasyan
By GAYANE MKRTCHYAN
ArmeniaNow reporter

The altered bio-diversity of Yerevan, caused by urban development,
has forced reptiles to move to populated human settlements.

"Look at Yerevan as a live organism, and if you look at the specifics
of its biodiversity you will see that we have bad indicators. If a
certain area with its typical biodiversity is cut by 25-50 percent,
it approaches a critical state, if the reduction gets passed 50
percent then it is a disaster. Yerevan is in a disastrous state,
over the recent years its biodiversity has undergone huge changes,"
says president of EcoLur Informational NGO Inga Zarafyan.

Scorpions, lizards and snakes make most of the fauna in Yerevan
located in the junction of semi-desert and mountainous-steppe climatic
zones. The greening and increase of water areas allowed changing
Yerevan's ecosystem during the Soviet years. But, ecologists say,
the recent city plans of the capital ignore its natural specifics.

Multi-storey buildings, asphalt and concrete have come to replace
large green areas, which is taking the city back to its initial -
desert - condition.

"If before snakes used to live in their natural environment,
today, if there is construction and their locale is taken over,
they start searching for new places and move away from their places
of population," says expert Aram Aghasyan, Head of Protected Areas
Management Department of Bioresources Management Agency at the
Ministry of Nature Protection. He says there are 15 snake species
populating Yerevan, the poisonous among them is gyurza, which can be
seen in Hrazdan gorge, in the vicinity of the TV tower, Dalma gardens,
in the area from Erebuni to Nubarashen.

"For two-three more years such changes will be happening until
the natural ecosystems finally lose their initial shape. Hrazdan
gorge stretches through Yerevan and is of certain value with its
biodiversity; it once used to have rich ecosystem. Yerevan is
expanding, and obviously has to undergo certain shifts," says Aghasyan.

Hrazdan gorge which used to stand out for its abundant flora is now
overtaken by restaurant and hotel complexes belonging to oligarchs.

The elimination of Dalma gardens - "lungs of Yerevan" - started in
2004 by the government decree providing for the division of the
gardens to zones, which in turn implied using parts of that land
for urban development. Today the Yerevan municipality website has a
post inviting investors to take part in 'Noyland' large-scale urban
development project in the area adjoining the Dalma gardens.

Silva Adamyan, scientific worker at the National Academy of Sciences'
Center for Zoology and Hydroecology, says all this is likely to turn
Yerevan into a semi-desert.

"Another consequence of urban development is that there are more midges
in Yerevan. The newly-built dwellings do not have delves fit for common
swifts' nesting and egg-laying, whereas swifts are absolutely needed
in cities, because they, like swallows, catch midges in the air as
well as other flying insects. Instead there are more garbage-eating
bird species now, such as, crows, magpies," says Adamyan.

According to her, before the 1980s around 158 bird species populated
Yerevan, and there only 135 left now.




From: A. Papazian