Friday, August 20, 2010

Russian news agency reports on environmental crisis in Armenia…

During a two-day visit to Armenia by President Dmitry Medvedev, RIA Novosti published an article by journalist Diana Markosian about the country’s forest and water resources, and how these may be impacted by climate change. She points out that logging is leading to desertification, which will be exacerbated by increasing temperatures.

(Photo in Lori region by Jason Sohigian)

The first national report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change warned, for example, that a two-degree Celsius increase over the 21st century will decrease the total annual flow of water in Armenia by 15 to 20 percent.

In a study by the Stockholm Environment Institute, The Socio-Economic Impact of Climate Change in Armenia, the United Nations Development Program warns that “Armenia’s future economic development will depend on the decisions that the current generation makes about investments in adaptation [to climate change].”

Armenia Tree Project has been planting trees to mitigate the impacts of climate change, but the effort may not be enough to solve the problem. With only eight percent forest cover, Armenia is still exporting wood according to the National Statistical Service. In the last 16 years, ATP has planted 3,500,000 trees around the country.

Associate Director Areg Maghakian tells RIA Novosti that reforestation is “an issue of national security” and that the government must take the initiative in order to address it adequately.

I was also interviewed for the story: “Armenia is focused on economic and social development, but the third aspect of sustainable development is environmental impacts. Business and economic development have been identified as a priority. That’s obviously very important, but business and life itself are supported by natural ecosystem services like forests, water, soil, and clean air, which can’t be easily replaced when they are degraded or depleted.”