Increased civil vigilance over forests in Armenia
In 2011, IUCN’s ENPI FLEG project in Armenia undertook a study to identify the socio-economic impacts of illegal logging on rural populations. The study targeted 819 households in eight Armenian regions (all within 10 km radius from the forest) and it covered 20 sawmills to measure the impact of the business sector. This allowed to develop a full analysis of the economic and social impacts of illegal logging and produced a comprehensive picture of the Armenian forest sector.
The study estimated that annually 240,000 m3 of forest are illegally logged, which is nearly 80 times higher than what official statistics reveal. Over the seven years prior to the study, the average price per cubic meter increased while the forest cover was reduced. The rise in the price was due to additional costs incurred from the extraction of fuelwood from the so called "difficult-to-reach" parts of forests, since the most accessible areas had already been depleted. The rate of consumption of wood extracted from forests overall was much higher than the forest growth rate, which resulted in rapid loss of Armenia’s forest stock.
These results were presented at an open stakeholder workshop organized by ENPI FLEG, which brought together government officials, local and international organizations and media representatives. It was the first time that the information about the actual scales of illegal logging in Armenia was made public by ENPI FLEG. Moreover, ENPI FLEG organized training sessions for journalists and bloggers to improve their ability in reporting on issues of illegal logging. Participants also had the chance to visit some of Armenia’s hotspots which are at risk.
Through its actions, ENPI FLEG has managed to catalyze the attention of journalists, actors, politicians and ordinary citizens on the issues related to illegal logging. People are now reacting to this issue, and would be ready to spend nights at the hotspots at risk and take action to stop the illegal logging.