By Jason Sohigian
WOBURN, Mass. and YEREVAN — Speakers on several panels at Forest Summit: Global Action and Armenia highlighted a common theme that is at once alarming, and a call for proactive action and resources. This is the lack of specialists in the fields of nursery management and forestry. Many speakers identified the challenge, and it has been confirmed by Armenia Tree Project’s experience on the ground, in trying to build the capacity of its nursery and tree planting staff.
This issue is of special importance since Armenia announced its ambitious goal to double its forest cover by 2050. This will require significant resources in terms of financing, seedling capacity, and human resources in the form of trained experts who are familiar with techniques such as tree propagation, nursery management, site identification, tree planting, and long-term tree care and management.
The issue was brought to the forefront during the Summit’s first panel, in a discussion about the key challenges and opportunities to increase Armenia’s forest coverage. In addressing some of the gaps, Hovik Sayadyan, technical task leader at UNDP Armenia, pointed out that there are no institutes for forest management in Armenia, in particular for forest inventory, afforestation, or forest management.
Vardan Urutyan, rector at Armenia’s National Agrarian University, expanded on this issue with a number of challenges around forest education. For example, financial resources are often insufficient for training specialists and there are few graduates from the Agrarian University. Those who do graduate often cannot find employment in this sector. He cited the need to improve the attractiveness and competitiveness of the forestry profession.
Given the challenges, there is an expectation within Armenia that more trained professionals must be developed in order to succeed in expanding the forest cover and managing the existing forests.