YEREVAN—Armenia Tree Project (ATP) and the American University of Armenia Acopian Center for the Environment have released a White Paper outlining the key discussions and recommendations from “Forest Summit: Global Action and Armenia.”
The Acopian Center and ATP convened the inaugural Forest Summit on October 20-23, 2019. Though small in size, Armenia has shown renewed political commitment to protecting and expanding its forest cover. As part of its pledge to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Armenia has committed to double its forest cover by 2050. The Summit brought local and international experts and stakeholders together for the first time to discuss the challenges and opportunities around this ambitious commitment.
The Summit was opened by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who emphasized that forests and environmental issues are a high priority for his administration. “Environmental issues are not isolated problems. They nearly always have a global impact and call for concerted efforts to address them,” declared Prime Minister Pashinyan at the Summit. “Events that provide a platform for exchanging ideas, exploring international experience, and identifying potential partnerships are crucial. I am pleased to see that today’s conference brings together world-class professionals.”
This was followed by a keynote address by Anthony S. Davis, interim dean at the College of Forestry at Oregon State University. Other speakers included David Mathenge from the Green Belt Movement, an organization whose founder won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, Omri Bonneh, Chief Forester at KKL-Jewish National Fund, Glenn Bush, an environmental economist at Woods Hole Research Center, and Maya Nehme, Executive Director of the Lebanon Reforestation Initiative.
“This first-ever Forest Summit included eight panels where local, regional, and international experts exchanged ideas as we point toward a roadmap on how to expand Armenia’s forest cover,” stated ATP executive director Jeanmarie Papelian. “The world has recognized that forests can play a key role in solving the climate crisis, and ATP is excited to be a part of it after laying the groundwork in Armenia for the past 25 years.”
“This White Paper provides an overview of the Summit proceedings, but more importantly it shares a number of policy recommendations on how to move forward,” explained Acopian Center Director Alen Amirkhanian. “We hope this document will help to advise our colleagues in the Ministry of Environment, as well as and other organizations in this sector, as we develop a long-term plan to expand and conserve Armenia’s forest cover over the next 30 years.”