ArmInfo.During the period from 2014 to 2016, in Armenia has been felling 3000 trees. Anna Khachatryan, a member of the Armenian Environmental Front, announced this during a press conference, presenting monitoring data on the identified violations of the forest ecosystem of Armenia during the period 2014-2016. At the same time, she stressed that the leadership of Hayantar SNCO initially refuted the signals regarding the illegal deforestations of trees identified during the indicated period.
"After we provided them with irrefutable facts in the form of terrain coordinates, photographs and video materials, they were forced to recognize this reality," Khachatryan said, noting that law enforcement agencies, however, did not reveal the actual customers and those responsible for deforestation, but <Hayantar>, after reports of illegal deforestations in several floristries, have not appointed official monitoring. According to Khachatryan, about 200 illegal felling were found in Ijevan forestry in 2014, and the trucks that transported the felling did not have state numbers, moreover, most of them did not have documents regarding the legality of the goods being transported.
"During the monitoring work, they tried to" bribe "or intimidate, on the basis of which a criminal case was opened, but the perpetrators were not identified, the executors were punished with dismissals and reprimands, the member of the Armenian Environmental Front explained.
According to Khachatryan, in 2015, in Kapan forestry, numerous cases of illegal deforestations were also identified. "During the preliminary investigation it turned out that in 2015. In the period from mid-August to September 20, 142 trees were illegally felling in the Chakaten community of the Kapan forestry of "Hayantar" SNCO using chainsaw, thus causing damage to the state by 2.662.500 drams", she said.
According to Khachatryan, 208 trees were illegaly felling on the territory of the Shikahogh Reserve, the damage to the plant world amounted to 5.803.750 drams. "The materials were transferred to the regional department of the RA Police, but according to the information we have, this case was also suspended," she noted.
According to her, volunteers found more than a thousand illegal deforestations on the territory of several sites of the Dsegh and Ehegnut floristries. "About 250-300 young trees were felling, and the rest - up to 5 years ago," Khachatryan explained, stressing that no steps had been taken on this signal from the government bodies.
According to her, in 2015, 22 trees were illegal cutting down at the Dilijan National Park.
According to her, during the monitoring work, there were cases when a number of unknown persons who appeared to be forestry workers blocked the road for volunteers. Referring to the situation in Stepanavan forestry, Khachatryan also reported that in 2015, about 1.100 trees were felling, of which almost 900 were young. "However, in this case, the staff of <Hayantar> tried to legitimize these," Khachatryan explained. According to the activist, the time has come for the authorities to deal with these matters. She noted that after inspections by the State Control Service of Armenia of Stepanavan Nature Reserve, a criminal case was initiated on the fact of cutting down 96 trees, a number of employees were dismissed, the damage amounted to 7,077,000 drams. According to Khachatryan, in all the cases indicated by her, state and law enforcement agencies tried to hide the real picture and scale of crimes and irreversible environmental consequences.
"The entire organized criminal chain of forest destruction has not been disclosed, and its upper links have remained unpunished. The monitoring showed that the forests of Armenia were subjected to a real massacre, and this was done at the highest level, "Khachatryan said, referring to the Public Environmental Court with the hope of objectively investigating and bringing violators to justice. She also stressed the urgent need for monitoring at the official level in all environmental areas.
In turn, activist Aram Gabrielyan stressed that the Armenian government is making a very optimistic forecast that by 2025 the forests should cover 20% of the territories of the Republic of Armenia, instead of 11%. He also recalled that at the ministerial meeting on forest landscape restoration and the Bonn call in the Caucasus and Central Asia in Astana, the Armenian delegation announced an increase in forests by 2030 by 286 thousand hectares. <These data are recorded in international documents. However, within the framework of the adopted program on climate change issues over the past 4 years, we have not seen any real steps by the government in this direction, "said Gabrielyan, referring to the country's leadership to provide clear information from 2015 to this day about the state of forest landscapes in Armenia and the steps taken in the framework of ongoing programs.
In addition, Gabrielyan explained that the convention on climate change provides ample opportunities and mechanisms for solving problems more effectively than punishment in the form of a fine. In his opinion, using the mechanisms of the convention, Armenia could simultaneously improve reforestation rates, while at the same time lightening the state's external debt burden.