Director Tufenkian and village leager Ajvazyan
joined the planting ceremony..
To the music of Armenian traditional instruments,
70-year old Boris Ghahramyan raised a young seedling
in his hands and new life began in the Lori Mountains
to the sound of the zurna and dhol on May 2.
Ghahramyan joined his fellow villagers of Odzun
to start a new forest in the one that has been
destroyed by necessity and carelessness.
The first community forest in the republic has
been founded by villagers, officials, students
and representatives of international organizations,
thanks to the Tufenkian Foundation's "Forests
of Armenia" project.
"It is wonderful to see the music and man
dancing with the trees," said the director
of the project, Jeffrey Tufenkian. "I think
many things will change in Odzun village. The
future of Odzun is being founded, the forest is
Head of the Odzun village Melik Ajvazyan says
great damage has been done to the woodlands of
Odzun, starting with the energy crises of a decade
The 6,000 residents of the village indiscriminately
cut trees for firewood, destroying some 200 hectares
of forest in the process.
"The damage is very significant," Ajvazyan
says. "But today it's a real holiday for
us, because though we had chopped tree by ourselves,
today we have gotten the opportunity to correct
our mistakes and restore everything."
Andranik Ghilihjanyan, director of the Science
and Research Center of the Ministry of Environment
Protection says it is hoped this action will cause
many changes in the environment of the village.
Village boys dragged saplings up the hill
"Larger trees will be planted such as maple,
oaks, pine, ash, beech, wild nut and pear trees,
as well as other trees," Dulijanyan said.
"It will restore the green zone of the village
and of the forest."
The deforestation of the one village reflects
a widespread problems throughout Armenia. Nazeli
Vardanyan of Forests of Armenia, says that Odzun
was not a random choice for a new forest, but
was chosen based on many factors.
Vardanyan says the entire eco system of Odzun
has suffered because the trees have been felled.
For example, springs have dried up and soil has
eroded, increasing the risk of mudslides.
"During one month 125,000 trees will be
planted on the territory of 100 hectares, creating
the first communal forest in Armenia," Vardanyan
says. "The community becomes owner of the
forest and gets rights to manage, work and supervise
it. The forest will be of both environmental and
sanitary and serious economic importance."
Planting and maintaining the forest will provide
about 250 jobs for villagers.
Someday, it will all be trees again.
"There is gas available in the village,
however many villagers have no possibilities to
pay for gas," Vardanyan says. "Thanks
to this project villagers will be able to solve
that problem as well without having to cut trees."
Garegin Davtyan from Odzun is glad to be a part
of such a project.
"This project is a great light in our lives,"
he says. "Tree planting is something that
can please God and the 1,200 drams (about $2)
that I earn daily can satisfy the needs of my
Villager Gagik Najaryan has an 11-member family
and sees the new forest as a legacy.
"We are grateful that such an attention
was paid to our village," he says. "There
used to be a magnificent nature here and now we
do everything for our grandchildren so they could
also see nature and forests and enjoy the results
of their grandfathers' work."