John Burton, World Land Trust’s Chief Executive, joined an important round table discussion on the future of protected areas in Armenia, on 20 April 2013.
The meeting brought together conservationists and government representatives all keen to further wildlife and landscape conservation in Armenia, some of whom were not fully aware of all the other activities taking place.
World Land Trust’s (WLT) partner organisation, the Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWC) hosted the event in Yerevan for invited representatives of government, international organisations and local NGOs.
After presentations on current and upcoming projects in Armenia’s protected areas, discussion focused on how to improve management strategies for nature reserves, sanctuaries and national parks.
Establishing new migration corridors for endangered wildlife species was considered a priority, and there was debate about the interconnection between nature conservation and community development in remote regions of Armenia.
Land leased for conservation
Ruben Khachatryan (the founder of FPWC) introduced participants to the Caucasus Wildlife Refuge, which is the only privately managed protected area in the entire South-Caucasus region.
This Refuge, on land leased for conservation, is adjacent to Khosrov Forest State Reserve and covers approximately 2,000 hectares. FPWC and its small team of rangers carry out the protection of the land and its threatened wildlife.
The principle of leasing land in private ownership for conservation is a new concept in Armenia but both John Burton (WLT Chief Executive) and Marc Hoogeslaag (IUCN-Netherlands) gave presentations to demonstrate the success of wildlife conservation projects where land is purchased, or leased, by NGOs in other parts of the world.
Discussions were very positive and John Burton said: “I found the meeting extremely instructive and encouraging. It is always good to encounter a spirit of cooperation, and I believe that wildlife conservation in Armenia is making great progress. World Land Trust is happy to continue supporting the efforts of FPWC.”
Among those present were:
- Khachik Hakobyan (Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Nature Protection)
- Karen Jenderejian (Project Manager UNDP-GEF)
- Karen Manvelyan (WWF Armenia Office Director)
- Arman Vermishyan (National Coordinator of the Caucasus Nature Fund in Armenia).
FPWC is planning regular round table discussions as a way of maintaining momentum and co-operation and to strengthen procedures for the management of protected areas in Armenia.
WLT has been supporting FPWC’s conservation efforts since 2010 and is urgently raising funds to preserve habitat for the endangered Caucasian Leopard.
One of the world’s lesser known biodiversity hotspots, the Caucasus covers an area of over 500,000 square kilometres between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea, and includes parts of Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Iran and Turkey.
The region is home to a wealth of wildlife – including the Caucasian Leopard, Brown Bear, Grey Wolf and Bezoar Goat – and has a high level of endemism, meaning many of the species that live here are found nowhere else on Earth.
WLT also supports FPWC’s ranger team to tackle illegal poaching within the region through its Keepers of the Wild programme.