YEREVAN—What started in 1970 as a teach-in about the environment has expanded year by year until Earth Day actions this year include more than one billion people in some 192 countries, according to the Earth Day Network.
Celebrating Earth Day has been an annual tradition for Armenia Tree Project (ATP), with tree plantings in public spaces across the country. Two community events were organized this year where more than 800 new trees were planted by volunteers and ATP partners.
The first tree planting day was organized on April 16 in the Avan community of Yerevan. More than 420 trees were planted by representatives of the United Nations Office in Armenia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the local government, and other international embassies.
The planting was initiated by the UN and ATP to celebrate Earth Day within the framework of the International Year of Water Cooperation. The trees and planting equipment were donated by ATP.
Among the distinguished guests, Minister of Foreign Affairs Edward Nalbandian participated in the planting. He highlighted that Armenia’s government pays special attention to the protection of forests, the greening of cities and villages, and the preservation of natural resources through the broader involvement of local communities. Together we work to strengthen the management, conservation, and sustainable development of forests for the benefit of current and future generations, he said. He called on each citizen to plant at least one tree every year, thus personally contributing to restoration of parks and forests.
After planting his first tree in Armenia, UN Resident Coordinator Bradley Busetto said, “Every citizen has a right to live in a safe and healthy environment, and it is our obligation to protect it. That is why protection and sustainable use of natural resources is absolutely vital, and a focus of the UN here in Armenia. I am happy to join this tradition, introduced by our Armenian partners, and plant trees, thus contributing personally to the restoration of the green areas in this beautiful country.”
“There is no more important work than cooperating with the Armenian government, its agencies, and the UN on projects dedicated to improving Armenia’s environment,” said ATP Managing Director Tom Garabedian. “The planting of these trees reinforces ATP’s commitment to the well-being of Armenia’s citizens and to the protection of the environment.”
Another Earth Day planting was organized on April 22 in Jrahovit, a town in the Ararat region. The U.S. Embassy in Yerevan joined ATP in planting more than 400 trees at the backyard of the Jrahovit secondary school. “This year the embassy plants 400 trees, one for each member of the U.S. Embassy staff,” said John Heffern, the ambassador to Armenia.
Volunteers from the Armenian Volunteer Corps (AVC) and schoolchildren from Jrahovit were also actively engaged in the planting. Principal Artak Babayan expressed his appreciation for the initiative and was grateful that the area around the school will soon be in bloom and totally greened.
After the planting, Ambassador Heffern talked with the schoolchildren about the importance of nature protection and a clean environment. ATP is planning to provide environmental education training for teachers at the school and will host the students at one of its nurseries and education centers in the coming months.
“We are thankful to the U.S. Embassy in Armenia and the Armenian Volunteer Corps for their active participation in this Earth Day event,” said Arthur Harutyunyan, the Community Tree Planting program manager. “These tree planting events contribute to our greening mission and help us raise awareness of the urgent issue of desertification.”
“ATP has been planting trees throughout Armenia and Artsakh for nearly 20 years now. Each planting for us is a celebration of the earth and nature,” continued Harutyunyan. “And April is a special month for ATP since we begin spring planting and collaborate with partners to plant trees of hope to celebrate Earth Day with hundreds of thousands of people around the world.”
ATP’s mission is to assist the Armenian people in using trees to improve their standard of living and protect the environment, guided by the desire to promote self-sufficiency, aid those with the fewest resources first, and conserve the indigenous ecosystem. ATP’s three major programs are tree planting, environmental education, and sustainable development initiatives.
For more information, visit www.armeniatree.org.