University Director’s Project Earns ENERGY GLOBE Award
An Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) administrator’s
novel scheme for replenishing forests in the Republic of Armenia while
simultaneously fighting poverty in the former Soviet Union, is one of the
world’s best environmental projects.
Newswise Science News (Source: Indiana University-Purdue University
Indianapolis, May 29, 2008)-An IUPUI administrator’s novel scheme for
replenishing forests in the Republic of Armenia while simultaneously
fighting poverty in the former Soviet Union, is one of the world’s best
The Backyard Nursery Project, designed and initiated in Armenia by Ian
McIntosh, Ph.D., is the recipient of a national ENERGY GLOBE Award for
Sustainability. The award-winning project involves the creation of
micro-businesses – backyard tree nurseries – to meet reforestation needs,
combat deforestation by reducing reliance on trees for fuel, and boost
income among some of Armenia’s poorest citizens.
>From 2002-2004, McIntosh, now IUPUI’s director of international
partnerships, served in Armenia as deputy country director of the
Yerevan-based Armenia Tree Project. There – along with forester George
Nercessian – McIntosh, an applied anthropologist, spearheaded the Backyard
ENERGY GLOBE Awards recognize extraordinary environmental projects that
conserve and protect resources or use renewable energy. An international
winner is chosen in each of five categories: water, earth, fire, air and
youth. National award winners are the best in their respective countries. A
gala ceremony honoring all ENERGY GLOBE winners took place Monday (May 26,
2008) at the Plenary Hall of the European Parliament in Brussels.
McIntosh’s project, a collaboration with villagers in Aygut in northern
Armenia’s Getik River valley, has involved the creation of more than 400
backyard tree nurseries and the planting of more than one million trees in
Armenia’s denuded forests.
Following the fall of the Soviet Union and the outbreak of war with
Azerbaijan, Armenia’s oil and natural gas supplies were slashed. The
country’s forests took a major blow as citizens turned to trees as a source
for heating and cooking fuel.
"So rapid was the loss of tree cover when the oil and gas supplies from
Azerbaijan were cut that Armenia was facing desertification within 20
years," McIntosh said. "And with the loss of trees came the loss of top
soil, the spoiling of rivers and other fresh water supplies, and erosion on
a massive scale, threatening to destroy the infrastructure – roads, train
lines, even whole towns – of the young Armenian nation."
The Aygut villagers, victims of ethnic cleansing during the war with
Azerbaijan over the contested province of Nagorno Karabakh, were contracted
to grow trees in the tiny fertile spaces they had available in their
backyards. The families involved, some of the nation’s poorest, have doubled
their annual income through the program.
"It was no easy decision for them," McIntosh said. "How much land could they
spare to grow trees for monetary reward, and how much land was essential for
the growing of precious food to last them through the long Armenian winter?"
Although many households initially were not prepared to take the risk, the
model has proven to be very successful. A number of other Getik River valley
villages as well as villages elsewhere in the Caucasus have adopted the
Officials of Armenian Tree Project accepted the ENERGY GLOBE award during
Monday’s gala which was broadcast around the world.
For additional details on the awards, visit
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