Pilot Project in Armenia
Sustainable Management of pastures and forest in Armenia to demonstrate climate change mitigation and adaptation benefits and dividends for local communities
The pilot project focuses on the protection and restoration of the most vulnerable and degraded mountain rangelands (pastures and meadows) and of forest ecosystems.
The project aims:
- to integrate environmental and social concerns into the management of upper watersheds;
- to provide support to the restoration of natural ecosystems (pastures and forest);
- to support the adoption of sustainable forest, rangeland and efficient farming management practices, in order to reduce pressure on environmentally sensitive areas and to reduce carbon emissions;
- to build adaptive capacity in local communities to climate change related risks.
The final objective of the project’s development is to favour the adoption of sustainable natural resource management practices adapted to the adverse impacts of climate change on mountain ecosystems of Armenia. These practices will ensure ecosystems integrity and sustained provision of ecosystem services in a long-term run, including carbon capture and storage. Lastly, in order to complement to the sustainability of the introduced management practices the rehabilitation of 2000 ha of rangelands and 60 ha of forest belts in the Gegharkunik region is planned.
General description and background information
A land of rich climatic and ecological diversity
With around 76,5% of its territory elevated between 1000 and 2500 meters above sea-level, Armenia is a small, mountainous country in the middle of South-Caucasus, landlocked, and a country of climate contradictions: even in such a limited surface, almost six climate patterns – from sub-tropical to frosty highlands – can be observed due to the complex terrain. Due to vertical alternation 10 landscape zones have been formed here – from semi-desert to snowy highlands.
Armenia’s, at the juncture of three bio-geographical provinces, diversity of climatic conditions and active geological record have resulted in the presence of a rich diversity of ecosystems and species with a high rate of endemism, making the country one of the centers of plant genetic diversity. Armenia is therefore part of WWFs “Global 200” and one of the Conservation International’s world hotspot.
The mountain ecosystems are an important production asset for the country’s population. Indeed, 50% of the Armenian population is living in rural areas and has been dependent on ecosystem goods and services for centuries, which ensure population well-being and development of all the economic sectors, including agriculture (19% of Gross Domestic Product).
However, Armenia is showing several current difficulties, such as:
- still the high rate of rural poverty;
- serious economic decline after the collapse of Soviet Union and the destruction of infrastructure;
- current global recession, rising food prices along with weak institutional setup and capacities of government to properly develop, implement and control national programmes;
- illegal operations and over-exploitation of natural resources, negative impact of climate change (creating cumulative impact resulting in loss of vulnerable habitats and species);
- degradation of ecosystems (for instance 82% of land resources, including arable lands and rangeland, are subject to desertification and erosion to different extend leading to decline in soil fertility and productivity etc.);
- reduction of ecological functionality and the growing insecurity of ecosystem services.
In addition to the impact of human activities, over the last 100 years, climate change risks represent significant factor of threat on already sensitive ecosystems and economic sectors. According to the Second National Communication to UNFCCC, the increase of the average temperature (+0.85°) and the decrease in precipitations (-6%) are already perceptible on the territory of Armenia since observations started in 1930. An average temperature increase of 4,8 to 5,1˚C and precipitation reduction of 8 to 24% are expected in Armenia by 2100.
According to projections, 250-300 m shift of vertical zonal boundaries of the main natural ecosystems up on mountain profile within next 100 years is expected. Such phenomena are expected to generate substantial changes in natural ecosystems and cause alteration of the areas, with subsequent distortion of natural habitats of certain plant and animal species. It was shown that especially vulnerable, sub-alpine and alpine ecosystems (up to 3000 meters above the sea level), could be completely ousted. Substantial unfavorable changes may also occur in other ecosystems, particularly in enclave spots, since all types of ecosystems are extremely vulnerable when surrounded with agricultural or urban landscapes. As a result, extinction of a whole range of rare plant and animal species is possible. It should be noted, that climate change in Armenia is strongly contributing to the fragile mountainous ecosystem degradation (soil erosion, reduction of productivity of pastures and meadows, reduction of forests resilience and productivity).
Unsustainable forest management and land use, poor agricultural practices accompanied with climate aridization results in the depletion of carbon sinks and storages. Thus, the achievement of sustainable natural resource management will be determined in part by Armenia’s ability to introduce management practices and adaptive mechanisms to compensate for climate changes impacts, including establishment of system buffers, carbon stock monitoring system and proper safeguards.
The pilot project is funded by the European Union (€1 000 000) and co-funded by UNDP ($100 000), that is also implementing it on the field.
More information & Publications
- Project Description
- Inception report (October 2013)
- Rapid appraisal of selected rural communities of Gegharkunik Marz (May 2014)
- Stocktaking and vulnerability assessment of mountain ecosystems - Approach and methodologies (August 2014)
- Guidelinesfor conducting vulnerability assessment of mountain rangeland and forest ecosystems in Vardenis sub-region of Gegharkunik Marz in Armenia (September 2014)
- Report on Lessons Learnt from Ecosystems Rehabilitation and Biodiversity Conservation Projects Implementation in Armenia (2014)
Project coordinator: Mr Georgi Arzumanyan (georgi.arzumanyan[at]undp.org)
Project Technical Task Leader: Mr Aram Ter-Zakaryan (aram.ter-zarakyan[at]undp.org)