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 Monday, September 11 2023 19:21

Each hectare of Armenian forests may provide on average $417 per year  of ecosystem services, WB

Each hectare of Armenian forests may provide on average $417 per year  of ecosystem services, WB

ArmInfo. Better management of forests could offer Armenia significant economic returns and position the country  as a champion of conservation and climate change adaptation, according to a new World Bank report, developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment of Armenia and released at a launch event today.  

It adds that more awareness among everyday Armenians of the  value of forests would help the country realize these returns.  This  is stated in the World Bank report Armenia: Forest Landscape  Restoration (FLR), which is available on the bank's official website.

According to the source, the report assesses landscape restoration  opportunities in Armenia's forestry sector and offers a detailed  overview of the sector's potential. For example, on average, each  hectare of forest is estimated to deliver on average $417 per year in  total value from a number of ecosystem services (or $138 million  annually).  "The report was developed through a consultative process  to inform national and international stakeholders about the current  status of the forest sector, opportunities for improvement, and  existing and potential benefits of landscape restoration measures.

The report provides recommendations that would support the government  of Armenia in landscape and forest restoration efforts, while  ensuring sustainable economic activities and creating jobs and  livelihoods in rural communities.

Armenia, known for its rich biodiversity, faces a unique challenge as  it is a forest-poor country, with only 11.2 percent of its territory  covered by forests, concentrated mainly in Tavush, Lori, and Syunik  marzes. The predominant forest type is naturally grown broad-leaved  mountain forest with a small area of pine forest. The report  highlights the potential of Armenia's forestry sector to contribute  significantly to the country's social, economic, and cultural  well-being.

The  report also identifies barriers which must be overcome, such as  the drivers of forest degradation, climate change impacts, and the  lack of awareness among the general population about the importance  of sustainable forest management. The report offers potential actions  Armenia could undertake to support increased Forest Landscape  Restoration

The report suggests prioritizing the:  -formalization and adoption a  national strategy for landscape restoration,

-establishment of a comprehensive National Forest Monitoring System,

-building institutional capacity through information and  communication technologies.

Additionally, it recommends addressing energy issues, particularly  fuel poverty in rural areas, to reduce the reliance on forests as a  heating fuel source.

"Armenia faces a unique challenge as it is a forest-poor country. We  have to embrace this challenge as an opportunity and join forces for  the realization of the country's landscape restoration potential,"  said Carolin Geginat, World Bank Country Manager for Armenia. "What  is needed is to address financial, policy and knowledge barriers. The  World Bank is here to work with Armenia to address all three barriers  not only with the knowledge contained in this report, but also with  investment, and policy support." The report's findings and  recommendations have contributed to the preparation of the Armenia  Integrated Resilient Landscape (RESILAND) Improvement Project, a part  of the regional RESILAND South Caucasus project, which was also  presented at the meeting. The project, supported by Global  Environment Facility (GEF) and co-financed by the Government of  Sweden aims to strengthen community engagement and improve the  management of forests, wetlands, and protected areas in select  locations in Armenia.

"Forests make up 11 percent of our country, and it is obvious that  this number is not enough for us. Increasing the forested area is not  an end in itself, it is of strategic importance for the sustainable   socio-economic development of the country," noted Deputy Minister of  Environment, Aram Meymaryan. "Conservation and use of the forest  should be separated from each other, as each component has its own  characteristics. The RA Government realizes the need for effective  management of the sector and takes appropriate steps in the form of  strategy development and implementation of cooperative programs in  the sector. Any program that is based on evidence and data analysis  and includes participatory consultation with a wide range of  stakeholders has the potential to succeed. I welcome our local and  international partners and wish everyone success in the  implementation phase." The report presentation was followed by an  expert panel discussion by invited speakers from the Ministry of  Environment of Armenia, Forest Alliance of Armenia, and American  University of Armenia.

The meeting was part of broader set of sustained joint efforts of the  World Bank and the government of Armenia in supporting the country's  sustainable development goals and green economic transition. A  Country Climate and Development Report, currently under development  by the World Bank jointly with Government of Armenia, as well as  GREEN Armenia Platform, and Armenia Green, Resilient, and Inclusive  Development Policy Operation are among the cooperative efforts to  promote green transition, reduce GHG emissions, and boost climate  adaptation," the source notes. 

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