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Jeff Masarjian at an ATP Orchard
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Archive: From the Director's Desk

Click here to view the June 2005 Directors Statement

December 2004

As a supporter and stakeholder in ATP's efforts to re-green Armenia, I'd like to update you on our activities and progress after my working visit there in October.

Nearly 500 people have been employed this year in our ongoing rejuvenation efforts to restore the splendor of the Tsitsernakaberd Genocide Memorial Park in Yerevan, as well as the Botanical Gardens, which were left in disarray after independence, due to a lack of state funding. Fall coppicing activities on 520 acres are currently in full swing, and are supervised
daily by experienced ATP staff.

By mid-November, ATP's Community Tree Planting program will have planted a total of 50,000 trees at 46 different sites this year. The trees have all been harvested from our nurseries in Karin and Khachpar, which have become field laboratories for testing the most cost-efficient and up-to-date methodologies of tree propagation.

The new Michael and Virginia Ohanian Environmental Education Center was inaugurated in Karin this month, with a ribbon cutting ceremony by attended by members of the Ohanian family, nursery tours, a showing of our new DVD, musical entertainment and lunch for over 60 guests. Students from Yerevan's Agricultural Academy have been attending practicum classes there several times per week, conducted by ATP Nursery Program Director Samvel Ghandilyan, Ph.D.

At the new 15 acre reforestation nursery in Vanadzor--a collaborative effort between ATP and local environmental NGO Tsiatsan--there are nearly 400,000 trees growing on 4 acres of
land, which withstood late season hail storms. Fourteen local villagers are employed there on a daily basis tending the trees. We have established an irrigation system, a small shelter for staff and guards, and fenced the whole plot to protect it from grazing animals.

In Aygut, the school orchard is really something to see! Some of the fruit trees are already over 7 feet high and produced fruit this year. Students from the school's environmental youth group have been tending the orchard diligently, which will very soon become a major source of food and income for the school. Project Harmony completely renovated a classroom in the school and will be delivering 6 new computers and an internet connection this fall. Six fruit trees have been distributed to nearly all 290 families in Aygut to replace their old and decaying backyard orchards. Four more trees will be distributed next year.

The 17 backyard reforestation nurseries we helped incubate have already produced 5,000 trees ready for outplanting this fall--a year ahead of schedule! The village "micro-entrepreneurs" will receive payment for these trees this fall, as promised. There are still another 11,000 trees that will continue to be nurtured until next year's planting season. Seed collection is currently underway in the valley to prepare for an expansion of the
program next year.

In the neighboring village of Dzoravank, a 500 tree community orchard was inaugurated and planted in April at an Earth Day ceremony attended by US Ambassador John Ordway and 70 guests. The trees are quite healthy and the rows between them were planted with crops this year, which are in the process of being harvested by the residents.

Our work is having a direct and lasting impact on the land and people of Armenia, which could not happen without your loyal and sustaining support. Thank you for your participation in the re-greening of Armenia. If you haven't already, I hope you will consider a special contribution this year in honor of ATP's 10th Anniversary, to help create a healthy and secure nation for future generations.

Jeff Masarjian
Executive Director
Armenia Tree Project

 

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