Armenia Tree Project
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Community Development and Poverty Reduction

Poverty is one of the great enemies of forests. Historically, people with no other viable source of income or energy have eventually destroyed the forests that were their lifelines, due to non-sustainable harvesting. As such, successful reforestation must be combined with locally based poverty reduction efforts in order to protect existing resources and investments in the future. In both urban and rural settings, poverty reduction and community development activities reduce the pressure on the remaining forests.

After assessing the severity of tree cutting and how it affected the vitality and sustainability of citizens in rural, impoverished areas, ATP laid out a strategy to reforest the Getik River Valley, an area located just north of Lake Sevan.

ATP initiated a pilot project that was designed to reforest degraded lands while generating income through micro-enterprise development in refugee villages. In 2004, ATP taught 17 families in the village of Aygut techniques for growing tree seedlings in backyard nursery plots. With ATP’s technical support these micro-enterprises produced 20,000 seedlings, and ATP paid participants for each seedling transplanted into the forest.

In 2005, we expanded this project to include 150 families, who grew over 120,000 trees, and in 2009, we have over 500 families actively involved in this program, which won the international Energy Globe Award for Sustainability in 2008. The development of these micro-enterprise nurseries not only provides for larger scale reforestation efforts, but also significantly increases each participant’s annual income.

Successful reforestation initiatives require broader social and economic development components to be successful. As such, ATP encouraged the involvement of other organizations in providing a broad range of services to people living in the Getik Valley.
Organizations including Heifer International, Project Harmony, World Vision, Armenian Eye Care Project, UNDP, USDA-MAP, Jinishian Family Foundation, Weyerhaeuser Family Foundation, and World Wildlife Fund have all initiated new projects with ATP’s involvement.

Our targets include:

  • Working collaboratively with other NGOs to provide a broad base of economic and social development opportunities to communities where we are growing and planting trees
  • Expanding micro-enterprise opportunities to include more and more new families who will partner with us in growing trees in backyard nurseries
  • Employing hundreds of local people in seasonal jobs planting trees for reforestation

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