This fall, Armenia Tree Project (ATP) plans to plant 220,000 trees and hire local residents to assist in the process. The majority of these trees will be planted in the village of Lernakert, located in Armenia’s Shirak Region.
The Shirak region is considered to be one of the poorest in Armenia. Difficulties in finding employment, the closure of local small businesses, and the struggles of the pandemic have made the socioeconomic situation even more dire. Additionally, many of Lernakert’s male population who previously sought employment opportunities in Russia have not had the chance to leave the country due to the pandemic to help provide for their families.
The village of Lernakert, one of Shirak’s most vulnerable communities, is nestled in the mountains – quite far from the urban hustle and bustle of larger nearby villages. Located on the western slope of Mount Aragats, it is 10 kilometers south of the town of Artik, and 35 kilometers from the provincial capital of Gyumri. The mountain life in the village is relatively quiet, particularly in Lernakert. The community was established in 1840 and was originally inhabited by refugees from Mush and Alashkert. Today, Lernakert has a population of around 1,500, making it one of the biggest villages in the region. The village houses a culture house, a kindergarten, a medical center, a community center, and a secondary school.
ATP is proud to assist in revitalizing communities like Lernakert. For years, ATP’s Community Tree Planting (CTP) Program has implemented different planting projects in many rural villages across Armenia, which have included the distribution of fruit and decorative trees to local families, as well as the establishing of small community forests.
In the past, some of the villages that have benefited from these projects include Benyamin, Bandivan Keti, Vahramaberd, Mayisyan, Beniamin, as well as Gyumri. This fall will be the first time that ATP will be planting forests in the Shirak region, within the scope of its forestry program. By planting forests in these communities, not only will we provide clean air, preserve groundwater and reduce dust, but we will also contribute to the reduction of poverty in the area and to the creation of new employment opportunities.
Having heard the news of this seasonal work opportunity, Lernakert villagers hurried to the village administration center to learn more about the upcoming work. They are excited to earn money working on this important project.
Simon Harutyunyan, a seasonal worker, is happy to have the opportunity to improve his community. “I do not want to leave my country. I want to work and live in my homeland,” he said.
Each year, ATP has hired hundreds of seasonal workers to support its spring and fall fundraising plantings. To date, ATP has established nearly 1,100 hectares of new forest, improving and preserving Armenia’s environment and providing economic opportunities to many rural villagers who work for ATP during planting seasons.