FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Environmental Film No. 1
The first in a series of environmental films produced by Vem Media Arts in Yerevan has been released. The 23-minute documentary film on the movement to save the Shikahogh Nature Reserve in southern Armenia was funded by Armenia Tree Project, Armenian Forests NGO, and the World Wildlife Fund Caucasus Office.
The government announced a plan in 2005 to build a highway to Iran right through the middle of the old growth Mtnadzor forest, which occupies about half of the Shikahogh Reserve in Syunik. The 10,000 ha reserve is home to innumerable rare and endangered plant and animal species, whose habitats would have been gravely threatened by the project. Earlier that year, World Wildlife Fund documented the presence of a small number of endangered Caucasian/Persian leopards living in the reserve.
Written by Inga Zarafyan and directed by Nikolay Davtyan, the film tells the story of a coalition of local and international NGOs, educational and scientific organizations, and individuals—including Armenia Tree Project, Armenian Forests NGO, World Wildlife Fund, American University of Armenia, and Armenian Assembly of America—who worked with the Diaspora to urge the government to consider alternatives to the proposed route that would do less environmental damage.
Specifically, they asked the government to find an alternate route for the highway that would spare the reserve and keep Armenia in compliance with numerous national laws and international treaties protecting its sanctity.
The film includes expert testimony from Karen Manvelyan of World Wildlife Fund, Shikahogh Reserve director Ruben Mkrtchyan, Karine Danielyan of the Association for Sustainable Human Development, and Carolyn Mugar, founder of Armenia Tree Project.
After visiting the site with engineers and environmental activists, the coalition pointed out that with proper planning and implementation the road could be constructed while also protecting the natural environment of the region. The coalition, which came to be known as “S.O.S. Shikahogh,” has been monitoring the situation to ensure that the reserve will be protected and that adjacent habitats are not threatened.
The directors of photography are Mkrtich Baroyan and Karen Azatyan, and the film was edited by David Tadriyan. The 23-minute documentary “Shikahogh” is being made available for personal and public viewing in DVD format. To acquire a copy of the film in the diaspora with English subtitles, contact Armenia Tree Project via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.