YEREVAN–The Armenia Tree Project (ATP) has initiated a “Tree City Armenia” competition to encourage the care of decorative and fruit trees planted in six villages in the Kotayk, Armavir, and Aragatsotn regions. The competition was proposed by ATP Executive Committee member Moorad Mooradian and modeled after the Tree City USA program of the Arbor Day Foundation.
After assessing the needs and conditions in Artashar, Irind, Karmrashen, Nor Artamet, Tsakhunk, and Zoravan, ATP began partnering with families in the villages by planting decorative and fruit trees at dozens of community sites. The program was designed to encourage the villages to grow and nurture the ATP trees, in competition with one another to achieve the best results.
Several fruit trees were distributed to each family in 2007 and two more trees were given to each family in 2008. The participating villages achieved remarkable survival rates of 96-98 percent, which serves as an example for other villages and communities to follow in the future.
After visiting the planting sites to monitor the results, the winners of the “Tree City Armenia” competition were announced during a ceremony at the ATP office in Yerevan on December 11, 2008.
ATP Community Tree Planting program manager Anahit Gharibyan opened the program with a heartfelt welcoming speech, during which she emphasized the important role of the participating communities in developing Armenia and building a better future for the next generations. “Since these communities achieved such unexpectedly high results, we decided to rejuvenate the orchards by providing more new fruit trees,” stated Gharibyan. “It was difficult for ATP to decide which village would take first prize because all of the communities took exceptional care of the trees.”
ATP Yerevan Director Mher Sadoyan congratulated the community leaders from the winning villages and pledged to continue working with them in 2009. “We would like to continue our collaboration by aiding those communities with the fewest resources, especially by greening public sites,” said Sadoyan.
The first prize went to the head of Artashar Village in Armavir, which achieved a seedling survival rate of 98 percent. “Artashar has a population of 1,800 and unfortunately the standard of living is not very high,” explained Mayor Manvel Ohanian. “Growing trees seemed impossible, so we are thankful to ATP for establishing a community tree planting program here. All of our residents did their best to take care of the trees, so I am very proud to receive this wonderful prize. It belongs to every family and every single resident who grew beautiful trees on barren land. Personally for me this moment is very exciting and inspiring.”
All six contestants received Certificates of Excellence for their work in re-greening their communities while also advancing socio-economic growth in their regions. All of the village sites are now ready for sponsorship by ATP donors, since they have become models for further investment.
Since 2004, ATP’s CTP program has been collaborating with 15 villages and 5,572 families have received apricot, wild apple, peach, and pear trees. In 2008, residents at 115 sites in Armenia with trees planted by ATP benefited from a harvest of more than 500,000 pounds of fresh fruit. Already 19,458 trees have been planted by 1,620 families as part of ATP’s “Tree City Armenia” program.
Since 1994, Armenia Tree Project has planted and restored more than 2,500,000 trees and created hundreds of jobs for impoverished Armenia’s in tree-regeneration programs. The organization’s three tiered initiatives are tree planting, community development to reduce poverty and promote self-sufficiency, and environmental education to protect Armenia’s precious natural resources. For additional information, visit the web site www.armeniatree.org.