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Development of the Protected Area System
© WWF Armenia
Protected Area System

In the course of its activity, WWF Armenia has paid particular attention to establishment and strengthening of Protected Area System. With the funding allocated by international donor institutions, large-scale works have been implemented to create new protected areas (PAs).

As a result, in the period of 10 years, the total area covered by PAs in Armenia (RA) has been increased by 85 530 hectares (ha), and currently it corresponds to 386 914 ha or 13 % of the country area.

© WWF-Armenia

In Armenia Protected Areas employ diverse conservation regimes: there are 3 national reserves (Khosrov Forest, Erebuni and Shikahogh State Reserves), 4 National Parks (Arevik, Lake Arpi, Dilijan and Sevan National Parks), 27 state sanctuaries and 262 areas with the status of natural monument.

Capacity Building of PAs

WWF Armenia has undertaken large-scale efforts to develop the system of PAs in Armenia and to improve their management performance.

Among many measures that were realized, it is possible to mention the logistical support rendered to the Khosrov Forest and Shikahogh State Reserves, and to the protected areas that are under the Zangezur Biosphere Complex SNCO, including provision of off-road vehicles, telescopic devices, camera traps, drones, fencing, billboards, ranger shelters, as well as organization of capacity-building events such as training courses, practical training, field visits and other.

We work also to maintain monuments of nature and to pursue their development. Specifically, passports were prepared and approved for the natural monuments of Devil's Bridge and Shaki waterfall. Development plans was drafted for the Devil's Bridge Natural Monument and several infrastructure facilities (ranger shelter, surveillance system, and other) have been already set in place in the area.

© WWF Armenia
Creation of Protected Areas

WWF Armenia has had great contribution in the establishment of new protected areas (PAs) in Armenia.

Creating a PA means establishing and putting in operation a comprehensive infrastructure called to support maintenance of the area, biodiversity monitoring, eco-tourism, cooperation with communities, and a set of other functions. WWF Armenia assists the RA government in establishing PAs, and, moreover, provides consistent support to the newly created PAs helping to improve the performance of management.

To this end, within the framework of the WWF projects and with the support of Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) and WWF Germany, the Arevik National Park and the Zangezur State Sanctuary were established in 2009. We implemented the required biodiversity studies, deployed various types of infrastructure, drafted the regulations and the structure of a national park and completed a series of other steps. The main purpose of establishing the Arevik National Park was conservation of the broad-leaved forests and open woodlands of juniper of the Meghri and Zangezur Mountain Ranges. More than 1500 species of high plants grow in the area of the park, which is also the habitat for more than 245 species of vertebrate animals. The National Park area is one of the main habitats of the Caucasian Leopard in Armenia, and a place where representatives of many endemic species of flora and fauna and those recorded in the Red Data Book of Armenia live. The main purpose of establishing the Zangezur State Sanctuary was conservation of habitats of the species of Armenian Mouflon.

Expanding the network of PAs, the Lake Arpi National Park was founded in the Shirak region of Armenia within the framework of a project implemented by WWF Armenia with the co-funding provided by the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development of the Federal Republic of Germany (BMZ), KfW Bank and the RA Government in 2009.  This National Park borders the Javakheti Protected Areas established in the south of Georgia, and is the first-ever transboundary protected area in the region. Lake Arpi National Park was founded with the overall goal to conserve the landscapes, eco-systems, and biodiversity of flora and fauna represented in its area, assist economic development of the communities encompassed in the protected zone, and to develop capacities improving the standard of living of the population. The ecosystem typical for the Park area combines mountain steppes, sub-alpine meadows, as well as lakes and wetlands, which makes it unique for our region. The National Park area is widely recognized for its bird species with more than 194 recorded species: among them birds of about 120 species nest also in the same area. They include the Dalmatian Pelican and the Corn Crake, the Armenian Gull and other birds. The administration building, guest house, visitors' center and other infrastructure facilities were built in the course of establishment of the National Park; required documents were developed, and a project aimed to improve living standards of population in the communities adjacent to the buffer zone was drafted along with other activities.

Another newly-created PA under special protection is the Khustup State Sanctuary established by WWF in 2013 with the co-funding of the UNDP/GEF and the Critical Eco-System Partnership Fund (CEPF). It encompasses the high-mountain section of the Khustup Massif, in the southwestern spur of the Meghri Range. The main purpose of establishing the Khustup State Sanctuary was to provide for natural development of ecosystems in the upper part of the Khustup forest zone, meadow-and-steppe and meadow ecosystems, to preserve landscape and biodiversity, protect nature monuments, and to ensure conservation, restoration and reproduction of the natural heritage, as well as sustainable use of the natural resources.

We also attach importance to introduction and development of alternative and innovative models of protected area management in Armenia. For this purpose, several protected community areas were founded, including among them the Arpa (former Gnishik) Protected Landscape that is managed by the ARPA Inter-Community Environmental Fund established by the communities of Areni and Khachik of Vayots-Dzor. The activities aimed to establish the Arpa Protected Landscape were launched as early as in 2011 within the framework of the projects realized by the UNDP-GEF Development of Protected Areas of Armenia and WWF-CEPF. However, it was not until 2014 that it started its operation. The area under protection covers 3000 ha of land and represents an important corridor for big and actively moving species such as the Caucasian Leopard, the Bezoar Goat, the Armenian Mouflon, the Brown Bear, the Eurasian Lynx and other. The goal of establishing the Arpa Protected Landscape was to preserve the flora and fauna of the area, facilitate safe migration of animals, and contribute to community development.

© WWF Armenia

Creation of the Tatev National Park in the Tatev region is now underway. The map of the Tatev National Park was prepared to this end, and it has been approved by the communities.

Specifically, decisions to involve certain areas in the national park were taken by the council of aldermen of region communities. Draft Management Plan and Regulations were developed for the Tatev National Park. Efforts on founding the new national park are in progress.

© WWF Armenia