Armenian Environmentalists Work Out Programs Aiming To Reduce Illega

ARMENIAN ENVIRONMENTALISTS WORK OUT PROGRAMS AIMING TO REDUCE ILLEGAL LOGGING
By Gohar Abrahamyan

ArmeniaNow
10.06.11 | 13:26

Environmentalists are warning that in Armenia illegal logging
continues unabated and offer pilot programs to deal with the situation
by influencing the demand in firewood through ensuring alternative
access to fuel.

Within the framework of the research conducted by the International
Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the International Center
for Agribusiness Research and Education (ICARE) a survey has been
conducted among 819 households in Armenia’s eight provinces located
near forests and among 20 sawmills situated in three provinces that
are rich in forests. The survey reveals that the minimum annual
amount of illegal logging of forests makes 240,000 cubic meters,
which approximately 80 times exceeds the official figures.

Agribusiness Research Center head Tatevik Zohrabyan says that
during the last seven years Armenia has seen a decrease in its
forest resources, whereas the price of one cubic meter of firewood
has increased.

“The firewood price increase is due to additional costs required to
get the material from parts of the forest that can be accessed with
greater difficulty. The average level of firewood consumption by the
households participating in our surveys in the past seven years has
decreased by 11.8 percent, and the average price of one cubic meter
of firewood has increased by 29 percent,” says Zohrabyan, adding that
unless alternatives are offered, many economic entities in Armenia
will continue to use firewood as their main fuel still for a long time.

Specialists say that one of the main causes of logging in Armenia
is the high level of poverty and a relatively low price of firewood
as compared to natural gas, electricity or fuel prices in a lot of
communities situated near forests and woods. Environmentalists,
therefore, are offering programs that they hope will result in a
reduction of the scale of logging.

“For improving the living conditions of communities near forests it
is suggested that reception points be set up for non-wooden products
(such as fruits, berries, vegetables) and that a large-scale use of
solar energy and biogas should ensure access to alternative sources
of fuel,” says Zohrabyan.

“For Sustainable Human Development” NGO head Karine Danielyan also
suggests providing forest wastes to residents.

“The wastes make quite a large percentage; unfortunately, by law
it is not allowed to use these wastes free of charge, while their
picking those wastes will be for the common good,” says the leading
environmentalist.

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