YEREVAN–Last summer, after a major fire broke out in Khosrov Forest, Armenia Tree Project (ATP) jumped into action to educate and inform the public about their role in the survival of Armenia’s delicate forests. Similar to California and Europe, Armenia has been affected by drought and more extreme weather events caused by climate change.
Understanding the human role in the creation and the prevention of forest fires and knowing the importance of education, ATP created a poster campaign about the role people play in starting fires. Posters were handed out to students throughout Armenia to hang in schools and community areas, as well as to partner schools in the diaspora.
Tchalo, the gampr dog created by Alik Arzoumanian for ATP’s Building Bridges education campaign, speaks on behalf of the trees. The Tchalo character has been teaching about forest fire prevention including the impact of parking in dry and high grass, appropriate cigarette disposal procedures, and proper fire and campfire protocols.
This summer, in partnership with the Tumo Center for Creative Technologies, ATP also released a public service announcement (PSA) created by Tumo students featuring Tchalo. The short animated video is available on ATP’s website, YouTube channel, and Facebook page.
“We’re all about partnerships and when we decided to create an educational clip about forest fires, we thought Tumo would be an excellent partner,” explained ATP Executive Director Jeanmarie Papelian.
Tumo was hosting a two week animation workshop led by Russian animator and illustrator Max Litvinov, and ATP sponsored the workshop in exchange for the PSA. The project was funded as part of the Building Bridges environmental education program sponsored by the Thomas Kooyumjian Family Foundation.
During the workshop, Max taught animation skills to a group of 16 students, ages 14 to 17, who were participating in Tumo’s free educational programs. Under Max’s guidance, the teenagers created the ATP PSA featuring the Tchalo animation.
“Education is high on our list of priorities,” said Papelian, “so we hope this PSA is seen by young people and adults all over Armenia and the diaspora since people are facing the threat of forest fires more and more. We plan to show the video on television, at eco clubs, at film festivals. Anywhere we can help to spread the message about how to prevent fires and protect the trees we are planting today. In fact, if people have ideas about where we can show the video, I encourage you to contact us in Armenia or in the US so we can help to solve this problem.”