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Armenia harmonizes forest monitoring system

In recent years, Armenia has gone through severe structural changes that have affected the forest sector. Forests, which were formerly under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture, are now the responsibility of the Ministry of Nature Protection, together with areas dedicated to nature conservation.

These changes allow for a harmonized and more efficient system for forest monitoring and management, and they create momentum for finalizing a national-level set of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management. The set, which has been developed in recent years through a multi-stakeholder process, addresses forest-related topics such as the extent of the forest area, biological diversity, socio-economic impacts, and productive and protective functions. It strives to transparently measure Armenia’s progress in achieving national forestry targets, including the reduction of illegal logging and the protection of forests and forest lands, and thus it supports evidence-based policy making. The set of criteria and indicators also can go along with the development of a new national forestry program.

On 20–22 February 2019, more than 30 national forest sector experts gathered in Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, to review and finalize the criteria and indicator set at a workshop organized by UNECE and FAO. Armenia is part of the project “Accountability Systems for Sustainable Forest Management for the Caucasus and Central Asia,” funded through the United Nations Development Account, which supports several countries in this process.

“The results of this workshop can make a significant contribution to the positive changes that have taken place in Armenia aiming to increase accountability and transparency in the forest sector,” said Vahe Matsakyan, deputy chairperson of the Committee of Forests in Armenia’s Ministry of Nature Protection.

In 2017, Armenia ratified the Paris Agreement, committing, among other things, to increase its forest cover to 20.1 percent by 2050.

For several years, remote sensing technologies have been used to monitor forests in Armenia. As a result, information about forests is regularly updated and accessible, allowing for the drawing of conclusions about the country’s historical forest situation. This information is used, inter alia, to monitor and manage forest fires and changes in forest areas and ecosystem health.

“It is crucial to create a functioning forest monitoring system to allow an assessment of the progress and quality of restoration efforts,” said Ekrem Yazici, deputy head of the UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section.

By developing a national-level criteria and indicator set, Armenia follows about 23 countries who are already using this approach, which promises to enhance discourse and communication on sustainable forest management.

22 February 2019, Yerevan, Armenia

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