YEREVAN—Spring is in the air and Armenia Tree Project has already beautified 110 communities by planting 22,000 trees through its Community Tree Planting (CTP) program. The first project took place in Artsakh where Syrian-Armenian refugees planted ATP fruit trees in Kovsakan. Each year hundreds of communities are given fruit and decorative trees through the CTP program. This year, seeking to provide fruit to soldiers in Artsakh, the program included plantings at six military bases.
A second component of ATP’s work is forestry. In a bittersweet launch of this year’s forestry planting, hundreds of volunteers joined forces in Stepanavan to plant the first seedlings in a memorial forest for Sose Thomassian and Allen Yekikian. Friends and family of the young couple, whose lives were tragically cut short last year, joined with volunteers from Birthright Armenia and Armenian Volunteer Corps to plant the initial 20,000 trees in the forest.
“The planting of these 42,000 trees this spring has brought the total number of trees planted by ATP to 4,497,869 since 1994,” reported ATP Managing Director Tom Garabedian. Reflecting on the organization’s milestone anniversary this year, he continued: “Throughout our 20 years of planting, ATP has forged invaluable partnerships with people along with dozens of organizations, businesses, and institutions to advance projects that beautify the environment.”
Collaboration with KPMG Armenia helped to green the Kentavr hippotherapy center in Ushi village this season, Byblos Bank facilitated planting at Poqr Mher military educational center for children, and the Ararat Cultural Center joined ATP to conduct a planting adjacent to Zvartnots Temple. As in previous years, ATP provided trees for the Paros Foundation that supports mothers and children, orphans, and needy families.
Plantings at schools included Yerevan State University and the State Engineering University of Armenia and in a partnership with the Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWC), a planting at their new Eco-Training Center in Urtsador.
In a relaunch of a program designed to restore trees and create new jobs, ATP hired 35 residents from Gyumri and Azatan to conduct coppicing, a traditional method of woodland management to regenerate tree stumps. ATP has joined with the local governments to distribute the wood cuttings to needy families for fuel.
“I am extremely proud to see the coppicing project reinitiated,” stated Garabedian. “It represents a collaboration between ATP and two local communities, provides income to 35 seasonal workers in those communities, beautifies and strengthens the trees that are coppiced, and delivers renewable energy supplies to low income families. Everyone benefits.”
A third component of ATP initiatives is to provide environmental education to students, local residents, and partner organizations. The Michael and Virginia Ohanian Center for Environmental Studies, which sits at the foot of ATP’s Hrant Dink Memorial Forest in Margahovit, houses classrooms and conference space, along with a small dormitory that can accommodate people for multiday conferences on the environment.
Last month, the Ohanian Center opened its doors to a two week training on waste management organized by the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) and conducted by environmental expert Martin Gabriel. ATP’s environmental education staff members Nvard Gevorgyan and Gayane Margaryan supported the training with breakout sessions and presentations. More than 60 people participated in the conference activities.
ATP’s mission is to assist the Armenian people in using trees to improve their standard of living and protect the environment, guided by the desire to promote self-sufficiency, aid those with the fewest resources first, and conserve the indigenous ecosystem. ATP’s three major programs are tree planting, environmental education, and sustainable development initiatives. For more information, please visit the website www.armeniatree.org.