Green initiatives in Armenia: Forests VS Climate change
According to the World Bank, Armenia ranks as the fourth most vulnerable country in terms of climate change risks, so it has signed up to increase its forest cover and carbon removal from forests, as its forests are sensitive to climate change, while its rural population is dependent on fuelwood to meet its energy demands. It faces considerable climate risks, especially the increased frequency of extreme weather events and their aftereffects — droughts, flooding, landslides, and wildfires.
Such natural disasters destroy livelihoods and retrench the country’s already limited capacity to mitigate and adapt to climate change. This could lead to a self-perpetuating cycle, which would threaten Armenia’s agricultural sector, ecology, and infrastructure. Still, the country has the possibility to reduce the risks thanks to its forests that reduce the depositing of sediments in Sevan Lake, which helps face water pollution, protects wildlife habitats, and keeps water levels stable. Trees and underbrush also capture and store CO2 from the atmosphere which is crucial for preventing climate change.
Preserving forests is a major priority, as deforestation has been caused by mining operations, illegal logging, and use for firewood, but forest fires and pests also threaten to intensify desertification, leading to disequilibrium of the country’s waterways, and causing significant loss of biodiversity and valuable pastureland.
Yet, Armenia is one of the least forested countries in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region. With only 11.2% forest cover, 70% of its woods are degraded, and forest-covered areas are gradually turning into grasslands. Current climate trends, projections for the country indicate future elevated average temperatures, precipitation, river-flow decreases, and snow cover reduction.
Sustainable Forestry is the key point
Forest preservation is so crucial for meeting Armenia’s climate commitments, especially the country’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) efforts by countries under the Paris Climate Agreement to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change, as its plan for 2021–2030 aims to reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40% from 1990 emission levels and increasing forest cover to 12.9%.
The World Bank is conducting a study of the opportunities for restoring forest landscapes across Armenia Through funding from the NDC Support Facility, a multi-donor trust fund. It consists of assessments of the legal and institutional needs, potential species for restoration, and possibilities for private sector participation also complements the government’s 10 million trees afforestation initiative, identifies restoration interventions, and lays out a path going forward to achieve the NDC target on forests and eventually on GHG reduction.
The study also recommends ways for restoring various types of existing forests and proposes a potential mix of indigenous species for plantation in already forested and non-forested areas, which will consequently help the country to adopt a data-driven, results-oriented, and multi-stakeholder approach to forest restoration-increasing the chances of success.
GREEN Armenia platform
The assessments on forest landscape restoration will be an important factor contributing to the upcoming GREEN Armenia platform which will be established together with development partners, including the World Bank, to support and advocate for Armenia’s “green” recovery and transformation. This platform will incubate innovative ideas, harness technological opportunities, and tap into global knowledge.
The European Union projects
The ‘EU4Environment: Green community — resilient future’ project, implemented by a consortium led by the ‘ Armenia Tree Project ‘, will promote urban green planning and green energy solutions. During the next three years, tree plantations will supply seedlings for urban greening initiatives will be established in 15 municipalities in Shirak, Lori and Tavush, with the aim of planting 458,000 trees. To promote eco-friendly behavior, 7,000 schoolchildren in these regions will be trained and involved in environmental education, awareness-raising campaigns, eco-clubs, eco-camps and annual clean-up initiatives.
FAO and WWF Armenia efforts
The Armenian branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) signed the co-financing agreement for a total amount of USD 200,000 as an in-kind contribution to partner with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) for a forestry project on enhanced adaptation and rural green growth.
WWF-Armenia will co-finance the project alongside its duration of eight years, and provide technical, and financial assistance related to community engagement, participation in forest management, and the creation of new forest areas in municipal lands in Syunik Marz. Besides, the project will rely too on co-financing and technical expertise from the Armenian government, the Austrian Development Agency, the Autonomous Province of Bolzano, Italy, and FAO.
It is the first large-scale FAO project to be supported by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) in Europe and Central Asia and Armenia’s first forestry-oriented funding proposal. It will increase the role of communities in governing and managing natural resources through forest concessions and improved fuelwood management, timber production and non-timber forest products. The agreement was signed by Karen Manvelyan, Director of WWF-Armenia, and Raimund Jehle, FAO Representative in Armenia.
Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.