Armenia Tree Project’s (ATP) spring planting season is currently underway. The goal is to plant 400,000 trees throughout Armenia and Artsakh this spring.
A significant percentage of this spring’s plantings are at five forest sites spanning over three provinces: Shirak, Lori and Kotayk.
The resort town of Stepanavan, located in the northern part of Lori Province near the border with Georgia, is one of the five forest sites where 59,000 trees were planted this April. The varieties of trees included: pine, oak, maple, ash, wild pear and apple.
ATP hires local villagers to provide the labor-intensive job of planting tens of thousands of cuttings.
Arevik Aharonyan and Arevluys Danielyan are both from the village of Dzoramut and have been neighbors for a long time. Danielyan has been on ATP’s forestry planting team for the past four years and says that she enjoys being around friends and relatives as they plant trees together. She recounts that she enjoys working with the soil and loves the thought of being useful for future generations.
“If everyone leaves the village and moves to the cities, then who is going to protect our borders and lands? I think an educated person can create a prosperous life in the village,” said Aharaonyan. “It’s a refreshing change to work outside of home, as I’ve been a housewife for all my life. I enjoy working with my friends and neighbors and love the idea of earning money.”
Artak Pnjoyan is one of the youngest at the Stepanavan forestry site. He is 31 years old and in his third year on the team. In addition to seasonal work with ATP, he is engaged in construction and trade. On an average day, he plants 250 to 300 trees and earns no less than 10,000 AMD.
“I usually come to the planting site an hour earlier and leave about 30 minutes later than everyone else. That’s my secret. First of all, what we do is important for us locals. Neither Yerevantsis nor our compatriots from other regions will benefit from the forests we establish today as much as we locals will. We want to be sure that we have done at least something useful for our country, even if it’s a minor thing,” recounts Pnjoyan.
Karine Antonyan is from the village of Dzoramut. Before joining the forestry project, she took on various jobs working as a telecommunications operator, a pastry chef and a manager at a coffee production factory.
“I am used to working outside of home and interacting with people. Living in a village, you don’t get much of that. That is why I love this job. Also, both my husband and I don’t have a permanent job, so this is a good opportunity for us to earn some money, especially now that my son is a student and commutes to Stepanavan. We need money to maintain his needs,” said Antonyan.
ATP is looking to raise $30,000 during its spring fundraiser to help rural Armenia tackle socio-economic and environmental issues.