Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan attended the Forest Summit: Global Action and Armenia.
The Prime Minister delivered a speech in which he touched upon the programs implemented by the Armenian government for the restoration and protection of forests and highlighted the joint efforts to tackle global environmental challenges.
In his speech, the Prime Minister said in particular:
“Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to be present at the inaugural conference on forest restoration, attended by leading experts from around the world. I welcome everyone, all participants and speakers and I want to say, “Welcome to Armenia.” I welcome and thank the Armenia Tree Project and the AUA Acopian Center for the Environment for initiating this important event.
I am pleased to welcome Acopian Center Director Alen Amirkhanyan, Armenia Tree Project Executive Director Jean-Marie Papelian, Deputy Director Jason Sohigian, as well as philanthropist and public figure Caroline Mugar.
I am also pleased to welcome Dr. Anthony Davis, Dean of the College of Forestry at the University of Oregon, as the keynote speaker at today’s event.
Addressing environmental issues, and in particular forest conservation and restoration, are among the priorities of our government.
Unfortunately, our country has been facing the challenge of declining forest areas for a long time. This negative phenomenon was caused by a number of problems that emerged in the first years of our country’s independence, in particular in the energy sector. However, the global trend of climate change has been a decisive factor in this process.
As you may know, environmental issues are not isolated problems. They nearly always have a global impact and call for concerted efforts to address them, and in this respect, events that provide a platform for exchanging ideas, exploring international experience and identifying potential partnerships are crucial.
I am pleased to see that today's conference brings together world-class professionals from whom I am sure we have much to learn.
Many of our international partners have developed and invested in sustainable and effective programs to tackle global environmental challenges. I think the Armenian experience can also be of interest to many of them.
At the heart of today’s event is the Armenia Tree Project. Already 25 years old, the project has gone a long way toward restoring and preserving Armenia’s forest areas. With its efforts about 6 million trees have been planted in Armenia. However, the Armenia Tree Project is not limited to reforestation and environmental issues.
It has invested heavily in rural community development, economic recovery, job creation and educational programs. One of its greatest achievements was to provide people with jobs in rural areas, thus becoming one of the largest employers in our country.
I am confident that the Armenia Tree Project will continue to contribute to our country’s sustainable development. We will appreciate your participation in the implementation of a strategic plan to double Armenia’s forest cover by 2050. And I hope you are aware of our initiative to plant 10 million trees, starting October, 2020.
I hope that this initiative will be the first significant step on that way: I mean doubling Armenia’s forested areas. But I would also like to note that the Government recently made an unprecedented decision, and we allocated 424 million drams to launch a process of reforestation in Armenia by the end of the year. In this regard, we are going to have about 500,000 plantations developed on 140 hectares by the end of the year. It is important to emphasize that this project has created about 1000 temporary jobs in the Republic of Armenia.
I would like to take this opportunity to say that there are only 500 of these jobs available at this time, and we currently have 300 jobs in Lori, 200 in Tavush and 50 in Syunik. So, our compatriots who would like to get involved in this process should know that the jobs are paid. They can apply to the branches of Hayantar SNCO in their region.
I also find it very important to note that we have recently made significant changes to the Criminal Code and the Administrative Code and have tightened penalties and sanctions for illegal logging.
I believe that these changes, these programs are truly unprecedented in their scale and demonstrate the clear commitment and political will of the Armenian government to protect, reforest and expand forests in Armenia.
Speaking about the Armenia Tree Project, I would like to express my special gratitude to Caroline Mugar, an American Armenian philanthropist, public figure, and pro-Armenian agenda advocate in the United States, for putting the start of this important project in Armenia.
Mrs. Mugar, your efforts are also invaluable as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Armenian Assembly of America for raising issues related to Armenia in the United States, for recognition of the Armenian Genocide, for developing the U.S.-Armenia and U.S.-Artsakh dialogue. Many of your charitable initiatives and programs have contributed to Armenia’s development since independence.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to inform you that on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Armenia Tree Project, the Government of the Republic of Armenia has made a decision to set up Mugar Park on the territory of Margahovit Forest.
Congratulating you, Mrs. Mugar, I wish you immense energy and the realization of all your dreams and ideas.
Concluding my speech, I would like to once again welcome all participants of today’s event and wish you effective work. I also wish to thank all those who participated in organizing this wonderful event. Thank you.”
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The “Forest Summit: Global Action and Armenia” aims to support Armenia’s commitment to double the country’s forest area by 2050, as well as to engage in active discussions on forest-related agenda and restoration issues worldwide.
The keynote speaker is Dr. Anthony Davis, Dean of the College of Forestry at the University of Oregon, one of the world’s leading institutions for research and education in the field of forestry.
The event is also attended by representatives from Nobel Prize laureate Kenyan Green Movement program, American Woods Hole Research Center, Israeli KKL-JNF environmental organization, UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s Green Climate Fund and Lebanese Reforestation Initiative. The conference features visits to Dilijan National Park, ATP nurseries, tree planting sites.