Many of the proximate threats to biodiversity in Armenia
are due to wider underlying causes. These factors affect Armenia
as a whole, not only its biodiversity, and it is beyond the
scope of this plan to address them fully here. These underlying
factors increase the pressures on biodiversity, while also
reducing the ability to react to biodiversity loss. Some of
the key underlying causes of biodiversity loss in Armenia
· The current economic problems.
· Legacy of the Soviet period.
· Population changes.
· Social deprivation.
· Over-reliance on natural resources.
· Lack of alternative environmentally-sustainable
sources of income.
An understanding of the context in which biodiversity conservation
will take place is essential if realistic goals and activities
are to be identified during the planning process. The information
presented in the Country Study provides the basis from which
the constraints on, and opportunities for, biodiversity conservation
in the Republic of Armenia can be identified. These have been
taken into account in the development of strategies and actions
for the BSAP.
A number of constraints currently restrict the extent and
efficiency of biodiversity conservation activities in Armenia.
Some of the main constraints include:
· Legacy of over 70 years of environmental problems.
· Low priority of the environment on the national
agenda, given other social and economic priorities.
· Lack of finances as a result of the economic crisis.
· Lack of equipment and technical materials.
· Gaps in the legislative base, and a lack of ability
to enforce existing regulations.
· Recent declines in vocational training.
· Lack of salaries and declining motivation of staff.
· Lack of co-ordination within and between institutions.
· Low public awareness of biodiversity issues.
· Increasing power of the private sector without
increasing their environmental responsibilities.
The limited financial contribution to nature protection is
currently a major hurdle in achieving effective biodiversity
conservation. The finances provided are insufficient to address
all the tasks required (including protected area management,
monitoring, rehabilitation of Lake Sevan, forest protection,
development of new technologies and biosafety). Effective
conservation will require a much more substantial investment
to solve the current problems. Furthermore the absence of
funds for contemporary research into biodiversity, is undermining
the ability to identify, and react to, threats to biodiversity.
Lack of investment has resulted in the loss of technical expertise
and capacity for training, particularly among protected area
The lack of integrated information and management systems
undermines biodiversity conservation activities, particularly
for protected areas. The absence of effective information
systems leads to difficulties in identifying rational and
achievable aims. In general, the fragmentation of responsibilities,
and lack of clear, in the roles of different management agencies,
while the absence of integrated policies with regard to protected
areas management result in ineffective management approaches.
The current level of ecological awareness in the general
population is very low, and even decision-makers and relevant
agencies are unaware of ecological limits and requirements.
Although legislative reform has been initiated, more work
is needed to ensure public awareness and participation in
the planning and implementation of nature protection projects.
If such projects are to be successful, they will require the
involvement of the general public, NGOs and other institutions.
A number of factors support biodiversity conservation, and
provide important opportunities that can be built upon in
the future. Such positive factors include:
· A large number of well-trained and committed personnel.
· Considerable academic potential.
· A good basis of existing structures (e.g. protected
· A strong and detailed legislative base.
· Government's commitment to biodiversity and meeting
the obligations of the CBD.
· Positive appreciation of the environment by the
· History and culture of conservation over many centuries.
· Strong recognition of the importance of natural
resources to the national economy.
· Extensive scientific research base.
· Large number of institutions involved in biodiversity
conservation activities (both government and NGOs).
· Extent of existing environmental programmes and
plans (e.g. National Environmental Action Plan, Biodiversity
Strategy and Action Plan, Lake Sevan Action Plan, Country
Study on Climate Change etc.)
The genetic resources of the country themselves represent
an important opportunity to promote biodiversity conservation,
given their importance for economic, social and cultural development.
Furthermore, the existing protected area system is extensive
(representing almost 10% of the total area of the country),
and over 60% of all species occur within protected areas.
The effective in-situ conservation of species (both within
and outside protected areas) is supported by recently revised
legislation, which accord to international standards, and
by the presence of a range of agencies with a remit for conservation
within the state structure, as well as a range of supporting
At a broader level, although public support for ecological
activities is currently low, the literacy rate is very high,
and interest in biodiversity conservation is increasing in
the younger generation. Specialist training is promoted through
higher education courses in ecology available in Armenia.
General awareness of biodiversity issues is increasing, and
NGOs are likely to have an increasing role in disseminating
such information. Over 50 NGOs are now recognised in Armenia,
and through collaboration with governmental management structures,
they have the opportunity to make important contributions
to biodiversity conservation in the country. Over recent years,
collaboration with international institutions and donors has
increased, and a number of governmental and non-governmental
organisations have received grants to undertake important
biodiversity conservation projects. This provides a good basis
to promote further international collaboration in future.
A more detailed analysis of existing opportunities
and constraints for biodiversity conservation in a number
of general sectors is presented in Table 2.11.
Table 2.11 Specific existing opportunities
and constraints for biodiversity
Political and socio-economic reforms
. Extension of nature protection programs
as a result of conservation being incorporated within
new policy frameworks
.Increased ecological education and awareness through
.Government support for meeting commitments to the CBD
.Increased investment in conservation from land privatization
.Reduction in pollution and its impacts following declines
in industrial and agricultural sectors
.Reduction of conservation activities
as a result of limited budget
.Unsustainable use of natural resources as a result
of land privatization
.Expansion of human pressures on the environment and
unsustainable use due to high levels of poverty
.Over-exploitation of forests as a result of the energy
. Promotion of in-situ conservation
and sustainable use as a result of the ratification
of international conventions
.Inclusion of clauses relating to biodiversity conservation
and use in environmental laws
.Inclusion of article on biodiversity conservation in
civil, administrative and criminal laws
.Development of draft laws on fauna and flora taking
account of new political and socio-economic contexts
.Development of strong legislative basis for biodiversity
conservation over the last decade
. Limits to enforcement of regulations
.Lack of legislation to regulate use of resources, in
the absence of legislation on the use and sharing of
.Lack of legislation on biosafety, genetically-modified
organisms and invasive species
.Lack of correspondence between existing regulations
for use of biological resources and private ownership
. Recognised need to integrate and
co-ordinate activities for biodiversity conservation
within the state management systems· Increased
responsibility for regulation of natural resource use
at regional and local levels
.Enforcement of environmental legislation through state
.Effective co-ordination and implementation of environmental
activities through regional environmental management
.Increased training to develop staff for management
agencies, through lectures of the Higher School of Management
.Increasing activities of a wide network of NGOs
. Unclear roles of different management
.Limits to effective implementation as a result obudget
.Decline in quality of personnel and applicants as a
result of low salaries and lack of technical support
.Duplication of monitoring activities between different
.Duplication of permissions granted by different agencies
.Lack of information database and monitoring systems
.Incompatibility between conservation needs and current
protected areas system
.Weak relationships between management agencies and
.Insufficient stakeholder participation
.Reduction in extent of tree felling
for fuel as a result of the growth in the energy sector
.Existing mechanisms and networks to prevent the spread
of pathogens and pests
. Increased road building leading
to environmental degradation and off-road activities
.Increasing urban development threatening natural habitats
.Increased water and air pollution
.Intensification of biological resource use as a legacy
of economic blockade
.Decreased levels of international information exchange
due to weak information systems and poor communications
Research and personnel base
. Promotion of scientific studies
on biodiversity at a number of institutions
.Strong basis for biodiversity research and analysis
from long term studies and publications
.Intellectual resources available to identify biodiversity
.Availability of newly qualified specialists in biodiversity
management from new ecological courses at higher education
. Reduction in opportunities to undertake
biodiversity research and lack of experience of new
technologies and approaches as a result of lack of finance
.Lack of implementation of biodiversity research as
a result of emigration of scientific personnel
.Lack of up-to-date educational materials limits the
ability to develop new approaches and to train staff
.Absence of information for state Register and for Red
and Green Data Books constrains biodiversity conservation
.Absence of an ongoing staff training system within
a range of management structures
.Dissemination of information on state
and institutional decisions relating to biodiversity
.Involvement of greater proportions of the population
in the state management system as a result of the public
awareness activities of NGOs
. Insufficient ecological education
and lack of information dissemination to the general
public as a result of financial and technical limitations
.Lack of public awareness at regional and local levels
.Few public awareness opportunities, as no public forums
exist to discuss issues relating to biodiversity conservation
. Increased information exchange as
a result of participation in meetings linked to international
conventions and other agreements
.Enhanced experience-sharing as a result of implementation
of joint projects undertaken with international support
.Increased activities and wider participation as a result
of projects funded by the international donor community
.Promotion of ecological education as a result of seminars
undertaken as part of internationally-funded projects
. Lack of funds for attendance of
.Limits to effectiveness of biodiversity conservation
given that a number of international conventions have
not been ratified
.Ineffective protection of migratory species as a result
of the lack of mechanisms for collaboration with neighbouring
.Lack of opportunity for overseas training due to financial
restrictions and limits to international assistance
Extensive changes in the landscapes and biodiversity of Armenia
have been clear over the last 500 years, particularly in the
decline of forest cover and increase in the area of agricultural
land. The loss of natural systems has increased dramatically
over the last century in response to a growing human population
and industrial development. A number of sectors of the economy
have important impacts on biodiversity, including agriculture,
forestry, industry, mining, energy, construction, transport,
tourism and recreation, and harvesting of wild species. These
sectors negatively affect biodiversity in a number of ways,
including loss of habitats, over-use, pollution, impacts of
introduced species and climate change. As a result, many plants
and animals are facing extinction, and a number of ecosystems
are suffering from erosion and increased desertification.
These impacts ultimately occur as a result of the present
economic and social climate of the country, which also provides
the context for biodiversity conservation. In this context
a range of constraints and opportunities have been identified,
which need to be incorporated into the planning procedure
for biodiversity conservation.
The Country Study presents a brief, but comprehensive, review
of biodiversity in Armenia, along with analysis of threats,
current activities affecting conservation and constraints
and opportunities for future activities.
As a result of its geographical location, and altitudinal
and climatic variation, Armenia contains a wide diversity
of ecosystems and species. As a result of its position, Armenia
has an important regional role, and affects climate and water
supply throughout the Caucasus region.
Armenia supports biodiversity of global significance, and
represents an important centre of origin for agrobiodiversity.
Many of the species which occur in the country are of economic
value, and are an important resources within the traditional
economies of Armenian people.
Substantial changes to biodiversity in Armenia have been
recorded over the last century, as a result of increased human
impacts. Degradation of natural areas and resources has been
particularly extreme over the last 20 years, resulting in
the loss of both habitats and species. Of key concern has
been the impact on deserts and semi-arid areas, declines in
forests and degradation of mountain steppes. In addition,
over 500 species of plants and animals are considered to be
Intensive industrial development over the last 70 years has
also had a negative impact on biodiversity. Sectors such as
mining, agriculture, energy and chemical industries have affected
biodiversity both directly and indirectly, through habitat
loss, over-use of resources and pollution.
The current state management system for biodiversity conservation
includes legislation, a network of protected areas, forest
conservation practices and to some extent an ex-situ conservation
system of botanical and zoological gardens.
Armenia has a strong potential with regard to scientific
and intellectual resources for conservation, including experience
in staff training. The developing NGO movement provides a
potential basis for increasing the effectiveness of conservation
actions in future.
At present the under-financing of nature protection agencies,
as well as an incomplete legislative base with low levels
of enforcement, represent important constraints to the effectiveness
of biodiversity conservation and sustainable use activities
in Armenia. These problems are further reinforced by low public
awareness of, or involvement in, nature conservation issues.
Biodiversity conservation needs to be integrated within approaches
to socio-economic development in Armenia. Increasing investments
in nature protection are likely to result in important development
benefits linked to sustainable use and regeneration of natural
resources. Such an approach would recognise that biodiversity
conservation and sustainable use are key tools to ensure the
improvement of living standards and sustainable development
of the Armenian people.