By SOSSI ESSAJANIAN
Armenia is a country with many mountains, rivers, valleys, streams, forests and lakes, but many of its trees have been destroyed by deforestation (the over-cutting down of trees in a forest). According to the 2002 Report on Millennium Development Goals for Armenia, at the turn of the 19th century, 25 percent of Armenia’s territory was covered in forest. Today, satellite data shows that Armenia’s forest cover is at seven or eight percent.
According to the Armenia Tree Project (ATP) there are three main reasons for the deforestation: the cutting of large trees by mining companies, the gathering of smaller trees by rural families for cooking and heating, and the grazing of farm animals in forest areas that lessens the number of new tree seedlings. It also argues that if the current deforestation continues Armenia will have almost no forests left by the year 2020.
One of ATP’s ways to battle this deforestation is to teach the next generation to protect and rebuild through environmental education. “It is one of our goals to disseminate [spread] the idea that every person has the power to contribute to the environment of their country and bring a positive change,” said ATP Environmental Education Program Manager Alla Berberyan.
During a recycling project at a school in Armenia, students organized a movement for a clean environment and proper waste disposal by apartment building residents. “My mother often throws away waste under the trees and I take it after her. I tell her not to do it and explain to her the harmful effects of pollution. I tell her that the tree will not grow if its roots are polluted. I also teach my younger brother about it,” said a sixth grader from Yerevan School #118.