From the Director's Desk
It is with great pleasure and profound gratitude to each of you that I can report new and significant milestones achieved by Armenia Tree Project in 2006. Our mission to reforest Armenia, while providing jobs, environmental education, and community development was advanced on many fronts. Your donations are having a significant impact on the lives and landscape of Armenia. Over 500 people there, including 70 dedicated staff members, received income through jobs and opportunities created by ATP.
We planted nearly 720,000 trees in 2006, more than we planted in the last 12 years combined! This brings the grand total of trees planted and rejuvenated by ATP to 1,500,000--one tree for every victim of the Armenian Genocide. This was made possible by our partnership with over 300 family farmers who grew trees in their backyards, as well as our Karin and Khachpar nurseries and our new Mirak Family Reforestation Nursery in Margahovit. Our trees also produced a harvest of over 240,000 pounds of apricots, apples, peaches, plums, and cherries for the benefit of local communities.
Education on environmental issues is critical to empowering Armenians to take responsibility for creating a sustainable future. As such, we integrate education in our tree planting programs, and we conduct trainings at our Michael and Virginia Ohanian Environmental Education Center. In addition, our environmental curriculum was accepted by the Ministry of Education for implementation in Armenia’s public schools, and we began the process of training 5,000 teachers on how to use it.
In order to enhance public awareness of the extremely serious environmental challenges faced by Armenia, we co-produced, with several partner organizations, a series of documentary films that are being aired on Armenian TV. These are available to you from our office in Watertown.
ATP believes strongly in the value of collaborating with all groups and organizations as a means of strengthening our impact. As such, we co-founded a new consortium of organizations called EcoArmenia, dedicated to stopping illegal logging and conserving Armenia’s rich biodiversity. We are taking bold new measures to research and document the issue of illegal logging as our first step in stopping it forever.
EcoArmenia has been involved in the struggle to save the environment around the village of Teghut from an ecological disaster that is likely to occur if Armenian Copper Program is allowed to proceed with a large scale strip mining operation there. ATP acknowledges the need for economic development in Armenia, however it should never be allowed to compromise long term environmental integrity or the survival of future generations.
To build support for our reforestation efforts, our Watertown office works on a number of public outreach and fundraising initiatives throughout the year. For example, the Boston Globe published an article that I co-authored with our founder Carolyn Mugar about the Green Belt Movement in Kenya, to coincide with a visit by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai hosted by the Boston Urban Forest Coalition in October.
ATP was awarded a grant by Conservation International and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund in Washington to partner with Yale University’s Global Institute for Sustainable Forestry. In addition to creating a model demonstration forest, we will develop the first ever manual on sustainable forestry in Armenia, which will be offered to forestry professionals and people living adjacent to the forests.
Without the support and encouragement of thousands of donors who believe that Armenia’s future is intimately tied to a healthy and sustainable environment, we could not have achieved these amazing results and helped so many in Armenia participate in revitalizing the land.
As you read the program reports and personal testimonies in our annual newsletter, you can be assured that your donations are well managed for the most positive impact. Please read through our Web site or call me directly for more detailed information.