Mr. Armen NALBANDYAN
Foreign Relations Department of SCSC “Hayantar”
Ministry of Nature Protection, YEREVAN
(No summary in French & Russian)
Modern Armenia lies in the southern part of the Transcaucasus, between latitudes 38° 50' and 41°18' N and longitudes 43°27' and 46°27' E. It occupies the small north-eastern part of the extensive Armenian Highlands and the peaks of the Lesser Caucasus. The total area of the Republic is 29 800 km2 Armenia is a typical highland country, over 76 percent of the land lying at altitudes between 1000 and 2500 metres above sea level. Some 11.2 percent of the total area of the country is wooded.
The wooded area of Armenia today amounts to 459 900 ha of which 334 100 ha are forest. There is 0.1 ha of forest land per person of population. Sixty-two percent of the woodland lies in the north-east and 36 percent in the south-east. Only 2 percent of the forests lie in the central regions.
Over 250 varieties of trees and bushes grow in Armenia's forests. The principal forest species are oak, beach and hornbeam. Historical, archaeological, palaeobotanical and other data indicate that the wooded surface of the Republic used to be three times as large, amounting to around 35 percent in the first millennium BC. Because of the economic and energy crisis that arose in the 1990s after the collapse of the USSR, Armenia's forests are now threatened with annihilation.
The people of the Republic have been forced to use wood as fuel. Expert estimates are that some 30 000 hectares of timber — a total of about 6 million cubic metres — were felled in the 1990s. The forests suffered significant damage since most of the felling was not authorised. There is a great deal of restoration work to be done. At present no more than 500 hectares of forest are restored in any year. At that rate, it will take over 60 years to restore the spoiled areas.
Forestry data from 1993 put Armenia's timber reserves at 41 740 000 cubic metres. Average annual overall growth is 450 000 cubic metres, average yearly growth of one hectare is 1.3 cubic metres, and average reserves per hectare are 125 cubic metres. Average density is 0.53 and average age is 99 years. These figures are indicative of unsystematic, intensive exploitation of the forests, resulting in growth and reserve indicators significantly below their potential values.
Of total timber reserves, beech accounts for the greatest proportion, with 20 680 000 cubic metres (49.5 percent), followed by oak with 12 500 000 cubic metres (29.8 percent) and hornbeam with 6 million cubic metres (14.3 percent). All remaining varieties together amount to reserves of 2 700 000 cubic metres (6.4 percent). These figures require correction since they take no account of unauthorised felling. An audit of forest resources and forestry operations is essential, no full audit having been performed since 1993.
Variety of Forest Species
Some 120 (about 40 percent) of the woody species growing in the forest are wild fruit or berry bearing plants used extensively by the population either as edible preserves or as root stock for high-yielding cultured varieties. The most valuable plants, yielding fruit which can be processed on an industrial scale, are: dog rose, pear, apple, Cornelian cherry, currant, dewberry, raspberry, gooseberry, hawthorn, walnut, beech, fig, pomegranate, blackthorn, cherry plum, hazel and sea-buckthorn. (See annex.)
Medicinal plants represent a fairly high proportion of the forest flora in Armenia (annex). The most: valuable medicinal plants, which can be processed on an industrial scale are: sea-buckthorn, dog rose, hawthorn, lime, juniper, dewberry, oak and barberry.
Among the variety of forest species in Armenia, edible wild plants such as gooseberry, currant, raspberry, dewberry, hawthorn, dock sorrel and asparagus are of particular interest (annex).
A wide variety of fungi have been recorded in Armenia's forests. Altogether 314 varieties have been found in mixed forests and 266 in deciduous woodland.
The inhabitants of Armenia, prefer the common, high-calorie varieties (annex) such as: meadow mushroom (Agaricus campestris), Agaricus silvaticus, granulated boletus (Suillus granulatus,. butter mushroom (Suillus lutens), milky agaric (Lactarius deliciosus) and chanterelle (Cantarellus cibarius).
Sea-buckthorn (Hlppophae rhamnoides.), widespread in Armenia but limited in range before the 1950s, is especially prized. It was introduced widely from the Altai region in the 1950s. Its range in Europe is limited (the Danube estuary and the Baltic coast). There are over 3 000 ha under sea-buckthorn in Armenia, roughly 2 500 of them fruiting. Harvests vary between 5 and 20 centners per hectare. With specially planted bushes and the use of agricultural technology, yields can be raised to 50–100 centners per hectare.
In the 1980s Armenia produced some 300 tonnes of sea-buckthorn fruit annually.
The Value Of Sea-Buckthorn
Sea-buckthorn fruit contains large quantities of biologically active substances (medicinal oil, vitamin C, carotene, organic acids etc.), making it irreplaceable (see annex) as a raw material for the pharmaceutical and food industries — producing medicinal oil and alcohol-free beverages.
As a forest crop sea-buckthorn possesses many valuable economic traits. It is one of the best land-improvement species and most promising crops for the afforestation of dunes, embankments and ravines. Armenia has accumulated extensive experience in the cultivation and processing of sea-buckthorn, producing both oil and alcohol-free beverages. If any European partners should be interested, it is ready to establish industrial plantations and joint processing facilities in short order.
Reserves and Prices
Reserves of basic non-wood forest products in Armenia have not been quantified. Expert assessments suggest the yearly volume of such reserves is between 5 000 and 10 000 tonnes.
Market prices for the principal edible and medicinal plants and fungi fluctuate in the range US$ 1 to 4 per kilogram of produce.
|Ripe fruits contain (as proportion of gross weight)|
|Total carbohydrates||2.57 percent|
|Total carotenoids||4.5 mg|
|Vitamin C||193. mg/100g|
|Vitamin E||2.9 mg/100g|
|Juice yield from pressing:||65–70 percent|
|Sea-buckthorn juice contains:|
|Organic acids||3.27 percent|
|Water-soluble carbohydrates||2.5 percent|
|Vitamin C||185. mg/100g|
|Sea-buckthorn oil contains:|
|B-group vitamins (B1, B2, B3)|
|Vitamins of groups A,E,C,PP|
|Potassium||14.4 mg eq/l|
|Calcium||13.5 mg eq/l|
|Magnesium||4.4 mg eq/l|
|Chlorine||140.7 mg eq/l|
List of edible fungi picked in Armenia
Agaricus bisporus -button mushroom
Agaricus campestris-meadow mushroom
Pleurotus ostreatus-cultivated tree oyster
Calocybe gambosa- St. George's mushroom
Armillaria mellea-honey agaric
Lactarius deliciosus-milky agaric
Suillus lutens - butter mushroom/slippery Jack
Suillus granulatus - granulated boletus
Lepista personata - field blewit
Lepista nuda - wood blewit
Macrolepiota procera - field parasol
Medicinal forests plants
Rubus idaeus - respberry
Crataegus sp. - hawthorn
Humulus lupulus - hop
Urtica dioica - nettle
Sambucus nigra - elder
Tilia cordata - lime, linden
Origanum vulgare - origanum
Quercus sp. - oak
Berberils vulgaris - barberry
Arctium palladinii - burdock
Juniperus oblonga - juniper
Equisetum arvense - field horsetail
Rubus caesius - dewberry
Rosa canina - dog-rose
Hippophae rhamnoides- sea-buckthorn
Hypericum perforatum - St. John's wort
Tussilago farfara - foalfoot
Chelidonium majus - celandine
Sorbus aucuparia -service-tree
Fragaria vesca - wild strawberry
Asparagus officinalis - asparagus
Edible forest plants
Rumex crispus - dock sorrel
Asparagus officinalis - asparagus
Polygonatum glaberrimum - Solomon's seal
Allium ursinum (A. victorialis) - ramson
Mentha longifolia - mint
Cornus mas - Cornelian cherry
Rubus caesius - dewberry
Crataegus sp. - Hawthorn
Rubus idaeus - raspberrrv
Ribes sp. - currant
Grossularia reclinata- gooseberry
Elaeagnus angustifolia - oleaster
Prunus spinosa - blackthorn
Pyrus sp. - pear
Prunus divaricata - cherry plum
Mespilus germanica - medlar
Punica granatum - pomegranate
Amygdalus communis - almond
Hyppophae rhamnoides - sea-buckthorn
Fagus orientalis - beech
Juglans regia -walnut