Armenia Tree Project Ready to Restore Artsakh’s Forests

Armenia’s leading tree-planting organization stands ready to provide its resources, knowledge and skills to aid and assist in the replanting of Artsakh’s forests when deemed safe.

Map of Artsakh’s burnt forests as of Nov. 2, 2020. These areas include regions no longer under Armenian-control. (Photo: Artsakh Ombudsman/Twitter)

YEREVAN—Armenia Tree Project (ATP) stands ready to provide its expertise and assistance to help restore forests and surrounding areas in Artsakh, which were targeted and damaged by Azerbaijan during the war.

On October 30, Azerbaijan added to its list of war crimes the use of white phosphorus munitions to destroy Artsakh’s ancient forests. ATP has learned that 1815 hectares/4484 acres of lush green land were burned as a result, causing irreparable damage to the natural environment and rendering areas in and near the forests uninhabitable. 

Before ATP can begin the replanting process, crucial steps must be taken by key stakeholders and necessary organizations to ensure the region is safe to work in. First, new maps must be drawn according to the ceasefire, and ATP will need to be granted access to these areas. Then, HALO Trust must ensure that all the areas are free of explosives and hazards. Lastly, the area’s soil and water levels will need to be tested for contamination levels.

The use of white phosphorus is not only a threat to Armenia’s rich biodiversity but to all life in the region. The chemical may remain within the deep soil for several years, contaminating underground waters and rivers, putting valuable ecosystems at risk.

“Even though a ceasefire now holds in Artsakh, it is not yet clear which forests we can and can’t work in,” says ATP operations manager Arthur Harutyunyan. “Once border demarcation is finalized, experts will map out the damaged areas and determine the extent of destruction. ATP can then identify areas for reforestation and provide our expertise and healthy native seedlings to help bring those lands back to life.”

The next issue that needs to be tackled is the remains of mines and other unexploded ordnances. The HALO Trust, a mine-clearing organization, is currently on the ground in Stepanakert, Martuni and Martakert, clearing explosives and teaching civilians to avoid hazards.

“I maintain regular contact with the deputy mayor of Stepanakert. The demining organizations have much work to do there to ensure the safety of citizens, before we can continue greening community sites in the towns and villages,” continues Harutyunyan. “Demining activities must also be carried out in the forests.”

In the coming months ATP will produce a plan for the establishment of a new forest in Armenia as a living memorial for the heroes of the war. Communities will be able to come together to pay tribute to fallen soldiers and honor them by planting trees. More details about the memorial will be revealed as they unfold.

Armenia Tree Project (ATP) is a non-profit program based in Woburn and Yerevan conducting vitally important environmental projects in Armenia's cities and villages and seeks support in advancing its reforestation mission. Since 1994, ATP has planted and restored more than 6,000,000 trees, and hundreds of jobs have been created for Armenians in seasonal tree-related programs.

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  1. Artsakh & Armenia should start forming the best group of 🇦🇲 Armenian lawyers from around the world to sue criminal azerbaijan & more criminal turkey for a very large amount for destroying the forests of ARTSAKH with chemical weapons and killing civilians by using cluster bombs. I ca not believe that in 21st century the world will allow this two savage countries do such a harm not only to humanity but to nature. These turks have stayed the same as when they came into civilisation from some deserts burning, killing & destroying culture along the way and after more than 10 centuries have stayed the same and didn’t reach the level of HUMANITY, if there is a God he must destroy them otherwise these Satan’s crime tools will destroy the world.

  2. Admiro el gran espíritu de lucha del gran pueblo armenio de Artsakh para renacer luego de la agresión del enemigo Azerbaiyán y Turquía. Mi corazón ♥ junto a Armenia 🇦🇲 y la República de Artsakh 🙂🤗!!

  3. Por siempre junto al noble pueblo armenio de la República de Artsakh 🙂 y sus héroes así como el apoyo de la comunidad de Armenia 🇦🇲 de todo el mundo para una prospera y moderna República de Artsakh, el gran renacer de la cultura y el patrimonio cultural armenios. Todo mi apoyo al gran pueblo armenio y todos sus territorios que le pertenecen. Saludos 🤝 🤝 😊!! ❤️

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