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Action Alert: Save Teghut's Forest in Armenia

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    The information being forwarded is in regards to a section of forest in northern Armenia that is home to threatened/endangered species and currently looking to
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 21, 2007
      Armenia Tree Project - ACTION ALERT

      The information being forwarded is in regards to a section of forest in northern Armenia that is home to threatened/endangered species and currently looking to be destroyed for a mining operation.  I lived in this area when I was an EE volunteer in Armenia (2004-2005) and thoroughly enjoyed that beauty of the area.  It is worth taking a look at the information being provided and how you can get involved.  The environmental campaign is no different than the ones in many of the countries you are serving in or have served, but rather is equally important as them.  Thanks for your time.


      - Brett



      Armenia Tree Project - Greening Armenia since 1994

      June 2007






      Dear Friend,

      I am writing to inform you of an impending ecological disaster in Teghut, a small village in northern Armenia , and what you can do to prevent it from taking place.

      Teghut, with its thousands of acres of virgin forest and rich ecosystem, is home to hundreds of species of birds, mammals, reptiles, fish and plants, including many that are registered in the International Red Book of Endangered Species.

      Armenian Copper Program (ACP), with approval from Armenia ’s Ministry of Nature Protection, plans to clear-cut over 1,500 acres of Teghut's forest in order to establish an open pit strip mining operation for copper and molybdenum ore. In addition, ACP plans to create a “tailing dump” in a nearby pristine gorge, where heavy metals and other toxins from mining waste will leach into the ground and into the river flowing through the gorge, ultimately contaminating the local water supply.

      ACP's Alaverdi copper smelter with no filters
      ACP's Alaverdi copper smelter with no filters

      What do we know about Armenian Copper Program’s track record? ACP owns the infamous Alaverdi Smelter, which processes copper ore for a consortium of mining companies in the region. The Alaverdi smelter, notorious for belching tens of thousands of tons of sulfur oxides annually into the atmosphere, is having disastrous effects on the health and well-being of the local population, and on the ecosystem from acid rain. Since the smelter’s re-opening in the late 1990's, the town of Alaverdi has seen a dramatic increase in the number of reported cases of respiratory disease, sterility, and severe birth defects. The smelter has no emission controls, and the company claims to be unable to afford the cost of installing them.


      ACP's initial plans for developing and exploiting the Teghut mine have received enthusiastic approval by the Ministry of Nature Protection, despite the fact that they will destroy one of Armenia's most treasured landscapes and clear cut a forest in a nation with less than 8% forest cover. According to Armenian law, mining in Teghut cannot begin until a detailed environmental impact assessment is completed and approved by government bodies. We have great concern that this assessment -- regardless of its results -- will be used to expedite the mining plans, due to the huge sums of money involved.

      Akhtala's ancient church above the leaking copper tailing dump
      Akhtala's ancient church above the leaking copper tailing dump

      Armenia Tree Project is a member of "SOS Teghut," a consortium of 26 organizations in Armenia (see complete list below), that supports the need for sustainable economic development in the country, but opposes development that will leave the land permanently degraded and poisoned. ACP claims that the Armenian government will receive $8 million per year in taxes and payments in return for the right to exploit this mine. But are we to allow Armenia ’s precious forest to be destroyed, the surrounding rivers and springs to be contaminated, and the agricultural lands adjacent to the mine to be poisoned for short-term economic gains for so few?

      Rather than destroy the Teghut Forest , we propose that it be made into a nature reserve as part of a concerted effort to develop sustainable tourism in the valley. Tourism is a sustainable form of economic development that benefits the local population without causing permanent damage to the environment. Teghut could attract people from around the world who want to see the rich landscape, biodiversity, and cultural heritage that is unique to this area.


      You can help make this happen right now in less than a minute of your time! Two years ago, by working together we saved the Shikahogh Nature Reserve in southern Armenia from destruction. Join us now as we raise our voices to save Teghut. Click here to take action by signing and sending a letter to Armenia's President Robert Kocharian.

      Click here to read more articles and documents about the issue, and click here to see photos of the Teghut Forest , the proposed tailing dump site in the Kharatadzor gorge, the ACP copper smelter in Alaverdi, and the copper tailing dump in the village of Akhtala sitting just below an ancient church.

      With great hope for the future of Armenia ,

      Jeff Masarjian
      Executive Director
      Armenia Tree Project
      On behalf of the SOS Teghut Consortium


      SOS Teghut Consortium Members:
      American University of Armenia —Environmental Conservation and Research Center
      Armenia Tree Project
      Armenian Botanical Society
      Armenian Ecological Charitable Foundation
      Armenia Ecotourism Association
      Armenian Forests NGO
      Armenian Society for Protection of Birds
      Armenian Women for Health and a Healthy Environment
      Avetiq Charitable Foundation
      Center for Bird Lovers
      Ecological Academy
      Ecolur Informational
      Foundation for Protection of Wildlife and Cultural Assets in the Nature Reserves of Armenia
      Greens Union of Armenia
      Goy Environmental-legal Foundation
      Kanach Foundation
      Khazer Ecological and Cultural Foundation
      Republic of Armenia Nature Rights Protection
      Professional and Entrepreneurial Orientation Union
      Shogher Union
      Social-Ecological Association
      Social-Ecological Party of Armenia
      Tapan Ecoclub
      Yanus Legal
      Women for Green Way for Generations
      World Wildlife Fund-Armenia



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