What is included in my donation of $20 to plant
The $20 amount to plant a tree is used to support not
only our tree growing and planting programs, but also environmental education,
community development, poverty reduction, and advocacy for environmental
preservation. All of ATP’s programs are interrelated and interdependent,
with the overall goal of not only reforesting Armenia, but also addressing
the root causes of deforestation.
Where do you plant the trees in Armenia? Can I
visit the site where you plant my memorial trees?
Since our founding in 1994, ATP has planted trees at
more than 725 sites throughout Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh, from public
sites like parks and orphanages to rural villages and deforested hillsides.
For a donation of $5,000 or more, we can honor your gift by acknowledging
you as a sponsor of a successful planting site established by ATP. Other
gifts are used to support our seasonal plantings, and our Watertown office
can put you in touch with our staff in Armenia so you can make arrangements
to visit our nurseries and sites that were planted the year you made your
gift. Many diasporans enjoy such visits to ATP sites, especially when
the trees are in full bloom.
What types of trees are you planting? Where do
you get the trees?
ATP grows and plants more than 50 varieties of trees, all of which are native to Armenia. Some of these include pine, maple, linden, beech, hornbeam, apricot, apple, and pear. All of our trees are grown in Armenia from seeds collected from the best available trees in the local forests. We have two nurseries near Yerevan, which provide trees for our urban and village planting programs, and the Mirak Family Reforestation Nursery in Margahovit village near Vanadzor.
How many fruit and nut trees are you planting each
year? Can I specify that fruit or nut trees be planted with my donation?
Our crop of fruit and nut trees varies with each planting
season, and they include apricot, wild apple, peach, pear, pistachio,
and walnut. Usually we plant 15,000 to 20,000 fruit and nut trees throughout
Armenia each year, and your seasonal donation is used to plant these trees.
Our goal is to find a way to grow even more fruit trees in the coming
How many people are employed by ATP in Watertown
and in Armenia?
In Watertown we have four full time employees and a part time Financial Controller, all of whom focus on outreach, fundraising, financial management, and program oversight, including our Director and Managing Director, who conduct field visits to Armenia 2-3 times per year. In Armenia we have more than 60 full-time staff, including administrative and program managers, and dozens of workers in our tree nurseries. In addition, ATP works with rural families who grow seedlings in their backyards, as well as hiring hundreds of other workers during the spring and fall planting seasons.
What is your annual budget and what percentage
of funds raised goes to actual program expenses?
To answer this question, it is important to note that the economies of the US and Armenia are vastly different. In general, costs in Armenia are approximately only 30 percent of what they would be to implement similar programs in the US. We base this assessment on general pay scales and cost of goods in Armenia compared to what the costs and salary for the same job would be if performed in the US by an employee with similar education and experience. If we were to use weighted figures, comparing “apples to apples,” our fundraising/administrative costs amount to approximately 12-14 percent of our total budget.
A portion of our Watertown expenses are directed toward program oversight and supervision, in order to ensure that all funds are put to their intended use and for the most benefit. Our annual budget for 2011 is approximately $1.25 million.
How do you raise the funds for your programs? Do
most of your funds come from your founder or the Armenian Assembly of
While our founder Carolyn Mugar established ATP as
a project of the Armenian Assembly of America in 1994, we operate as a
financially independent program and we receive no funds from the Armenian
Assembly, however many of our donors are members of the Armenian Assembly.
ATP’s Watertown office is responsible for raising 100 percent of
ATP’s funds, which is done through major gifts, direct mail, special
events, grants, and by phone and our web site. Our founder continues to
support ATP, but the vast majority of funds are donated by more than 5,000
individual donors each year, and a small but growing number of foundation
and corporate donors.
How will my contribution make a difference if
more trees are being cut for fuel or export than you are planting?
ATP is working on many fronts to reduce and eventually
eliminate the unsustainable use of trees in Armenia. The export of wood
and wood products is illegal and we are working to strengthen enforcement
of the laws. In order to better understand the problem, ATP commissioned
a study in 2007 by the Economy and Values Research Center on “The
Economics of Armenia’s Forest Industry” which is available
on our web site under “The Threat/Resources and Data.” Our
goal is to work with the NGO community and the government to implement
the recommendations proposed by this study. In the meantime, in order
to begin the restoration of the land we are planting as many trees as
possible and educating the public and the youth about the value of trees
and forests. We employ monitors to work with local communities to protect
all of the trees planted by ATP.
What is your relationship with the AESA Fast Growing
Tree Project? Do you face similar challenges?
We are in contact with the Armenian Engineers and Scientists
of America and many other professional organizations based in Armenia
and around the world. We are not affiliated with the AESA Fast Growing
Tree Project, but we are familiar with the problems they have faced and
we have expressed our concern along with many people in the diaspora.
While ATP has not faced a similar situation with our tree nurseries or
planting sites, we support efforts to ensure that the AESA may continue
its work. There are many challenges to doing any kind of work in Armenia,
for ATP and every organization, and we make every effort to exercise our
best judgment to represent the long-term needs of our many stakeholders
Can I go to Armenia and volunteer to plant trees
with your program?
We partner closely with Birthright Armenia for our summer
volunteer program, and details are available on our web site under “Who
We Are/Volunteer Opportunities.” We accept applications and depending
on our programmatic needs, we may approve 1-5 volunteers each year. Most
participants are required to participate in the Birthright program in
order to ensure the best volunteer experience, but we have made exceptions
depending on your area of expertise. We generally don’t offer the
opportunity to actually plant trees because that is done by staff, seasonal
workers, or people trained by ATP in local communities, but many diasporans
arrange group visits to the Michael and Virginia Ohanian Environmental
Education Center at our Karin Nursery where they can have a tour and a
more hands-on experience.
Does ATP participate in programs to offset carbon
dioxide emissions that are causing climate change?
ATP is applying to participate in carbon offset reforestation
programs under the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol.
While our view is that carbon emissions should be reduced at their source
through energy efficiency and using renewable energy, we recognize that
some emissions are unavoidable and that reforestation can lead to a reduction
that would not have taken place otherwise.
Therefore, we are also researching the potential for providing
certified carbon offsets, although there is a significant cost involved
in participating in such a program. In the meantime, we are continuing
to plant hundreds of thousands of trees in Armenia every year which are
sequestering carbon dioxide, and we routinely produce certificates verifying
that the trees were planted when requested by a donor.
So you may sponsor the planting of trees via ATP to
offset the carbon emissions of airplane travel, auto travel, and everyday
household emissions. We also welcome inquiries about sponsoring a specific
tree planting site or funding the planting of a large forest plot, and
we encourage supporters to contact us for a visit to our tree planting
sites when traveling to Armenia.