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The Process of Allotment Community Lands for Establishment “Zangezur” Biosphere Reserve

In addition to the existing areas of the State Reserve, Sanctuary and National Park for “Zangezur” biosphere reserve establishment process in the RA Syunik region, the Community Councils have made decisions of changing category of the public lands within the administrative boundaries of the communities aiming for expansion special protected areas. “Zangezur” Biosphere Reserve has created by the uniting neighboring PAs.
Below is presented additional information on the lands added by the communities, including the lands category and conducting process. Within the frameworks of the process debates were organized

on providing community lands in the all communities, including also Shikahogh, but then has been removed provision of lands from Shikahogh community, because it is completely surrounded by reserves.

As informed A. Davtyan, head of Antarashat community, unlike the Shikahogh, during the discussion held in their community, the villagers were opposed and the Council of Elders, taking into account the villagers’ opinion, refused consent on lands allocation.From the Tsav community-owned lands allotted 1000 hectares of land, mainly of which are alpine areas and pastures. As assured S. Zakaryan, head of the community the farmers are informed, they have been promised to implement projects, provide employments; at the same time an agreement was reached for livestock grazing in the mentioned areas. The hayfields and pastures of the community can suffice more cattle than today’s available. In Chakaten community the Council of Elders held a meeting and made a decision regarding the provision of 1162.22 hectares of area, which included forests and pastures.

I. Kostandyan, head of Geghanush community mentioned that the Council of Elders decided “to approve changing the category of the administrative borders of 1154.93 hectares of the state-owned lands to protected areas and including in “Khustup” Sanctuary.” About 600 hectares of the mentioned area are pastures. The village mayor assured that within the borders of these areas will be installed signboards, will be specified the areas “defacto”. The preliminary agreement of the City Council will be followed by a discussion regarding the approved areas and will be designated a new Council decision on the land allotment.

Dzorastan is a small community, even has no a school, the residents are mostly elderly people; therefore, the fields and gardens are not cultivated. A. Avetisyan, head of the community assured that the council discussed the issue of allotting lands and made a decision to allot 960 hectares, mainly alpine zones, to the purposed PAs.
From the community lands of Tatev were allotted 913.19 hectares of lands. As assured M. Simonyan, Village Head the farmers are aware of the decision. The allotted lands are cliffs stretching to the peak of Aramazd, where the cattle do not graze.

S. Petrosyan, head of Lernadzor community informed that at the initial meeting the villagers did not agree with the idea of providing 500 hectares of pastures, but later agreed to change the category of lands of the abandoned villages of Lernadzor administrative area to 500 hectares of protected areas and including in “Zangezur” Sanctuary.

Although at the initial meeting Astghaberd community was agreed for the land allottment, but due to the mining exploration activities those areas cannot be included in the protected area, said the community leader A. Tevanyan.

N. Filosyan, Dastakert community leader informed at the preliminary review of the city council, with the participation of residents, it was decided to change the category of 1148.75 hectares of lands to protected areas and include it in “Zangezur” Sanctuary, in case that later would not be obstacles in using those areas, to provide employment to the community and to settle any problem raised by the community. Otherwise, the decision will be considered invalid. Recommendations were provided to make amendments to the charter, as by the former charter grazing and hay-making was prohibited in the protected areas. The project manager had promised to make those changes.

During the initial meetings the leaders of all communities promised to provide jobs for the locals. The Communities have adopted decisions on “abandonment” some part of lands situated in their administrative boundaries, taking into account that in future would not be obstacles for the community residents in collecting herbs, haymaking, livestock grazing, sowing potato and other crops.

On March 13, 2013 during the public discussion held in Kapan Aarhus Center on the “Protected Areas System Development” project implementing in the support of the UNDP GEF by the MNP of the RA and “World Wildlife Fund”,

K. Chenterejyan, the program manager and coordinator Alla Berberyan informed that “Zangezur” Sanctuary will be expanded (9291.79 hectares) and will be established “Khustup” PA (6946.74 hectares). The biodiversity will be maintained and developed, will be implemented projects promoting socio-economic development of rural communities. During the discussion were appeared a number of inaccuracies. For example, the area of the mining enterprise was included in the area of the biosphere reserves, or a residential house of the rural community was bordering that area. For correcting the mentioned inaccuracies a decision was adopted to submit proposals within a10-day period.

On August 9, 2013, a discussion was held regarding the problems encountered during the process of the program on establishment and expansion of “Khustup” and “Zangezur” sanctuaries, several items of the RA government’s draft decision (the draft was read, but not provided to the attendees reasoning the notes made for amending the draft), which limit the entry of the community population to the lands provided by them.

For example, they should have entry permits to pass the area, the tractors crossing the road should not get out of that area and so on, that is, the entry of farmers to these areas currently using by the community cannot be allowed without permission, and it just makes no sense to speak about the sowing.

K. Chenterejyan accepted the contradictions regarding the same issue in the Charter of the PAs and the government’s draft decision and promised to provide recommendations to make amendments in the draft, and then provide the relevant information. As of April 22, there was not the promised, amended government’s draft or decision submitted to the public.

Ashot Avagyan
Coordinator of Kapan Aarhus Center
Tell: /+374 93/ 79 59 21
E-mail:. info_kapan@aarhus.am, kapan.aarhus@mail.ru

Translated by Anush Beybutyan