What is the condition of the land in Armenia, what kind of policy does the government run for land resources, whether we will have food safety problem because of climate change and what we should do to face theclimate change? All these questions were discussed at “The Safety of Land resources and Food inLight of Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Emissions” round table at “EcoLur” Press Club. The round table participants were as follows: Garnik Petrosyan, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Lusine Davtyan, Deputy Head at State Service for Food Safety, Asya Muradyan, Head of Air Protection Policy Division Ministry of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia, Aram Gabrielyan, National Focal Point of the UN Convention on Climate Change, Ashot Vardevanyan, National Focal Point of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, Hunan Ghazaryan, Director of Scientific Center of Soil Science, Agrochemistry and Melioration, Diana Harutyunyan, UNDP Climate Change Project Coordinator, Georgi Arzumanyan, UNDP Programme Policy Adviser, Anastas Aghazaryan, UNDP Climate Change Program Expert, Armen Danielyan, IFAD/GEF National Coordinator of “Sustainable land management to increase productivity”, Amalya Hambardzumyan, Chairman of “Khazer” NGO, Nune Sarukhanyan, Chairman of “Green Lane” NGO and EcoLur working team.
"In terms of emissions of greenhouse gases our country must take certain commitments under the new Agreement which will be accepted at the end of this year at the Convention conference of parties which will take place in Paris. A great importance is given to that new Agreement as all the countries must take certain obligations to decrease emissions, so making contributions in the fight against global warming. Armenia must develop a document of those commitments/contributions and by October, it must be presented to the Secretariat of the Convention as the position of Armenia. In that document Armenia as a developing country, like other developing countries, plans to include the adaptation issues of some vulnerable sectors…Today's problem under discussion refers to the emissions caused by changing land use changes, when hayfield, forest or so on high humus or carbon containing land is converted. The loss of humus is a loss of CO2 which is also calculated in the balance sheet of national greenhouse gas emissions. And if the country takes certain commitments to limit emissions it also refers to the policy on protection and development carbon absorbers such as land and forest resources’,- particularly said Diana Harutyunyan, UNDP Climate Change Project Coordinator.
“Humus content in Armenia’s black soil by the average score has dropped by 1 percent, during last few decades. Today, we have 718 thousand hectares of black soils, including cultivated and uncultivated options, the decline implements quickly in cultivated black soils. On average, 25 cm humus layer we have almost 150 million tons of reserves. Nearly 40 million we've lost”,- particularly said Hunan Ghazaryan, Director of Scientific Center of Soil Science.
“Taking into account the emergency of the problem within several years by special professional groups we could study and detect the reasons why the lands weren't used which served as basis for state projects in that field. After land privatization in our country many negative phenomena were recorded connected with dividing lands into smaller fields which resulted in decreasing the efficiency of land use. For a long period of time the whole drainage network didn't operate properly and consequently in certain sections there was soil salinisation and maximum hydration. As a result of wrong land division particularly in case of mountain relief erosion phenomena were observed in a number of places which also result in degradation of lands. A significant part of arable lands wasn't used in agriculture. Only in 2005-2008 the lands which were not used increased by another 50 thousand hectares”,- particularly said RA Deputy Minister of Agriculture Garnik Petrosyan.
“I have made a comparison with land balance in 2007 and in 2014. There are both positive and negative trends and processes, which are very worrisome. Irrigated areas have been expanded by almost 500 hectares. Natural special protected areas have been expended on account of 104 thousand hectares of agricultural land. It can also be considered an achievement, because in specially protected areas, as you know, economic activity is limited. Residential lands has changed over the past 7 years, they have increased totally by 800 hectares. I think that can also be considered as a normal phenomenon, as the rates are not so great. In 2013-2014 years soil management land areas have been expended by 1460 hectares at the expense of agricultural land. It is worrisome”,- particularly said National Focal Point of the UN Convention on Climate Change, Ashot Vardevanyan.
“We discuss development issues or 3 different directions. Which problem is more prevalent, which direction we prefer: land, food safety or climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. If we are more interested in food safety, it implies a rise in agricultural production. It is impossible not to produce more, because in addition to unmet demand, in our country the only reliable resource of economic growth remains agriculture. The growth in agriculture, thus increase agricultural production is accompanied by indiscriminate exploitation of land resources, which would result worse condition. This choice is in direct conflict with the problem of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions”,- particularly said Anastas Aghazaryan, UNDP Climate Change Program Expert.
“Speaking about land problems several main issues, improvement works are mentioned which have been done in the framework of various projects. But if we look back, we can see that the land problems which were raised 20 years ago, are almost the same. …Land is the only field having no national strategy. We don't know what is land in Armenia: a natural resource, an urban development resource, a cadastre unit, what the land is and what expectations we have from it. Land is one of the only fields the management of which has been taken by 11 offices if I am not mistaken, and conflict of interest doesn't allow to give a joint solution to those problems. This is the problem”,- particularly said Georgi Arzumanyan, UNDP Programme Policy Adviser.
“It's not difficult to notice that the RA "Land Code" and other legislative acts don't include options on land protection. That is, the land isn't perceived as a natural ecosystem under protection. It was planned by the second national project of the RA nature protection to develop a concept of land protection which had to be done in 2012 but it hasn't been developed so far. We have a goal to reanimate that idea and finally reflect upon that important issue and develop that concept”,- particularly said Aram Gabrielyan, National Focal Point of the UN Convention on Climate Change.
As a result of the discussion the following suggestions were made to the Government while making the speeches.
· To develop a joint state strategy of land management (Georgi Arzumanyan)
· To develop a concept of land protection
· To conduct a regular monitoring of organic carbon in the soil and forest.
· The law on cooperation (Hunan Ghazaryan)
· To adopt a law on preserving land fertility.
· To stimulate closed mining toughening the conditions for compensation of damages caused by opencast mining: full compensation for the damages caused, to compensate the loss of land by recultivation (Diana Harutyunyan).
· To make an inventory of the mines and tailing dumps which are not operated and develop a recultivation project (Diana Harutyunyan)
· To support the organization of ore recycling industry giving preference to the business methods with a result of higher export (Diana Harutyunyan).
· To recycle the content of the tailing dumps, to extract all the necessary materials, to use the rest for producing pellicle and and construction pumice blocks (Hunan Ghazaryan)
· To close the small mines which contaminate the environment more than benefit (Ashot Vardevanyan)
· To organize an industry of drip irrigation and anti-hail systems in Armenia (Garnik Petrosyan).
· To develop mechanisms of economic support for those farmers who invest drip irrigation (Diana Harutyunyan).
· To give tax and customs privileges to the importers of drip irrigation technologies (Diana Harutyunyan).
· To change the field of water fee and taxation so that in case of overuse of water another fee is used which will promote water saving (Diana Harutyunyan).
· To give lands of optimal sizes to the peasants on which they can farm effectively (Garnik Petrosyan).
· To organize trainings for farmers showing them the farming opportunities under dry climate and waterless conditions, markets of plants persisting in dry weather (Nune Sarukhanyan and Garnik Petrosyan).
The “EcoLur” Informational NGO is organizing series of events aimed at public involvement and awareness raising targeted to the future climate change policy directions and development of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) of the Republic of Armenia under UN Climate Change Framework Convention (UNFCCC).
The material is prepared by 'EcoLur' Informational NGO under UNDP Climate Change Program, within the framework of ARM-002/2015 Contract.The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the United Nations, including UNDP, or the UN Member States.
15:35 July 21, 2015