Being a YPARD Armenia member, I had a chance to represent my country at the Youth Uniting to Halt Deforestation workshop and conference organized by joint efforts of the International Forestry Student Association (IFSA), the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) and the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) at FAO headquarters in Rome from February 19th to 22nd, 2018.
Now I am ready to share my experience and do my best to involve all Armenians in the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15.2 halting deforestation target.
One fundamental statement of the conference was “industrial agriculture is the main driving force of deforestation”. But in many counties, including Armenia, economy mainly depends on agriculture. For example, Armenia generates more than 20 % of its GDP through agriculture and employs about 40% of the population in this field (FAO Armenia).
In this case, do you think countries like ours who cannot even fill their people’s stomachs would think about the environment and the future of the planet? I don’t really think so. Moreover, let’s don’t forget United Nations Zero Hunger goal (SDG goal 2.4).
Aiming to promote halting deforestation and zero hunger, I suggest on focusing on people’s currents needs but at the same time care about the environment and ecosystem maintenance. Try to find out integrated sustainable agriculture models like aquaponics, coconut coir based greenhouses, etc., to maintain ecosystems, strengthen climate change adaptation as well as progressive improvement of land and soil quality.
UNDP/GEF (Global Environment Facility), project implement actions to reduce environmental degradation in Armenia; that is the destruction of ecosystems, an increase of greenhouse gases, overexploitation of natural resources and land degradation.
Armenia implemented reforestation projects aiming to maintain forest management and ecosystem in south-eastern parts of Armenia, reduce the risk of biodiversity loss, support sustainable use of landscapes and mitigate land degradation.
The main reasons for forest degradation in Armenia are the invasion of pests, land erosion, fire, and illegal cutting of trees. “Adaptation to Climate Change Impacts in Mountain Forest Ecosystems of Armenia” project aimed to investigate and assess reforestation pilot projects in Goris and Kapan forest regions. Under the scope of UNDP/GEF projects, the pilot projects afforested 15 ha of treeless are in Goris, reforested 20 ha of the burned Kapan’s forest, 20 ha of the Meghri forest and 1.8 ha near Tatev Monastery planted with wild endemic tree species. Moreover, 120.000 ha of forest are protected areas through community’s actions.
I do believe that the youth is the future and a strong force for to reckon with in proffering sustainable solutions to environmental challenges. International youth organizations such as IFSA, YPARD and the Youth in Landscapes Initiative are brilliant examples of youth caring for the environment, connecting young leaders across different sectors to the rest of the world and sharing knowledge to figure out solutions.
I do believe that the youth can find or create integrated models to promote sustainable environment and agriculture.
Picture credit: IFSA