Update on Proposed Construction of Freeway Through
YEREVAN (Armenian Forests NGO)--Upon the order of Ministry of Transport and Communication of the Republic of Armenia, the “Transproject” CJSC has developed a project on construction of a Kapan-Tsav-Shvanidzor freeway, which plans to cross the Mtnadzor section of the Shikahogh State Reserve. The government of Armenia has adopted a decree, which already is submitted to ratification by the President.
The “Shikahogh” reserve is habitat for about 1,100 species of plants, 70 of which have been registered in the Red Book of Armenia and 18 in the Red Book of the Soviet Union. The fauna of Shikahogh has not been fully explored, but studies have already revealed rare species of animals such as leopard, bezoar, moufflon, bear, snowcock, viper, and hedgehog.
Mtnadzor is the better preserved section of Shikahogh, covered with virgin forests, which deserves to be recognized as world natural heritage. Breaking the conservation regime of Shikahogh will result in the mass destruction of these species.
Passage of the road through the mentioned reserve is violating the international conventions ratified by the Republic of Armenia (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UN Convention on Biodiversity, UN Convention to Combat Desertification, European Convention on Landscape) and laws of the Republic of Armenia (Law on Specially Protected Areas, Law on Flora, Law on Fauna).
It also contradicts other decrees adopted by the Armenian government, such as the State Strategy and National Action Plan for Development of Specially Protected Natural Areas of Armenia, and the Master Plan of Settlement of the Republic of Armenia adopted in 2003.
Construction of the freeway also results in infringement of the Armenian law on Environmental Impact Expertise, as there was no environmental impact assessment conducted for the concept of passage of the road through the natural reserve. The construction of the road was started without positive conclusion of the environmental impact assessment.
Finally, the construction activities have breached the requirements of the UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making, and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention).
It is the opinion of experts and non-governmental organizations that there are several alternatives to the road proposed by the “Transproject” CJSC, which are more expedient from the strategic and economic points of view and will have less acute impacts on the environment.
The Environmental Public Alliance of Armenian NGOs
is organizing a Public Forum to discuss the expediency of passage of the
freeway through Shikahogh reserve and possible alternatives. The Public
Forum will take place on Friday, June 17, from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm at
the American University of Armenia, 5th Floor Conference Hall, 40 Baghramyan