Biodiversity Protection and Community Development: Implementing Ecoregional Conservation Plan Targets in South Armenia

Project Description:
This long-term project focused on biodiversity conservation in harmony with developing local communities through strengthening of southern Armenia’s protected areas (Khosrov Forest and Shikahogh reserves), fostering effective nature protection in wildlife corridors (planned Gnishik Protected Areas and regional conservation inspections), raising awareness among local people and creation of opportunities for alternative livelihood in rural communities through development of sustainable tourism and implementation of educational activities.

Many representatives of south Armenia’s rich biodiversity, especially large mammals, lead mobile life and thus require vast areas to survive. This is especially true for the species such as leopard, Armenian mouflon (wild sheep), brown bear, Eurasian lynx and bezoar goat. Unless provided with movement corridors, these species are doomed to extinction. Most of such corridors are located outside of protected areas and highly prone to degradation because of human activities. The project enabled to assess the biodiversity, socio-economic, legal and management status of the corridor. The follow-up activities were dedicated to establishment of the new Gnishik Protected Area (kick off workshop, boundary delineation and mapping, preparation and submission of legal documents) and to strengthening the capacities of regional environmental inspections authorized for conservation outside of protected areas.

The overall objective of the project is to help ensure effective protection of biodiversity and sustainable management of natural resources in southern Armenia, providing an operational model that can contribute to the development, prosperity and peace in the Caucasus region.

Project Outcomes:

Khosrov Forest State Reserve
2007 – 2008
  1. Visitor program incorporated to the management plan
  2. Visitor Centre constructed and fully operating at the entrance of Garni District
  3. One ecotourism trail marked with directional signs
  4. Billboards, multilingual information boards, road signs installed
  5. Leaflets, guidebook and other information materials produced
  6. Documentary film about Khosrov Forest State Reserve produced
2008 – 2009
  1. Visitor Centre launch in Garni District
  2. Ecotourism resources and capacities assessment
  3. Ecotourism Monitoring Program
  4. Workshop on reserve’s vision up to 2012
  5. Ranger station constructed
  6. Camp site and two more ecotourism trails arranged
  7. Uniforms, equipment and an off-road vehicle provided to reserve rangers
2009 – 2010
  1. Visitor Centre constructed at the Vedi entrance of the reserve through co-financing by ASSOGAL Toscana (EU funded project) and WWF Armenia (MFA of Norway Project)
  2. Visitor Centre fully furnished and equipped through co-financing by Caucasus Nature Fund and HSBC Armenia Bank
  3. Familiarization Trip for Tour Operators presenting ecotourism opportunities
Shikahogh State Reserve
2007 – 2008
  1. Draft management plan for the reserve
  2. Administration building rehabilitation
  3. Biodiversity monitoring program
  4. Staff training
2008 – 2009
  1. The visitor program prepared and incorporated to the draft management plan
  2. Website created – www.shikahogh.am
  3. Billboards, multilingual information boards, road signs installed
  4. Leaflets, guidebook and other information materials produced
  5. Workshop on reserve’s vision up to 2015 implemented
  6. Uniforms, equipment and an off-road vehicle provided to reserve rangers
  7. Administration building furnished, equipped, provided with additional management capacities (internet, water piping, heating system, office equipment)
  8. Outside of the administration building renovated
2009 – 2010
  1. Visitor accommodation facility in the administration building
  2. Documentary film about Shikahogh State Reserve
  3. FamiliarizationTrip for Tour Operators presenting tourism opportunities
Zangezur State Sanctuary
2010 – 2011
  1. Ranger station created, furnished and equipped
  2. Biodiversity monitoring programme developed
  3. Training on monitoring programme implemented
  4. Off-road vehicle provided
Arevik National Park
2010 – 2011
  1. Draft management and business plans developed
  2. Ranger station build, furnished and equipped
  3. Off-road vehicle provided to the National Park
Gnishik Planned Protected Area
2010 – 2011
  1. Draft management and business plans developed
  2. Visitor Centre established, furnished and equipped including posters and signs
  3. The anti-poaching unit established and provided with an off-road vehicle, uniforms and binoculars
  4. Four road blocks installed in the roads leading to the main habitats of bezoar goats
  5. A three-room wooden house purchased and set up as a guest house near the Gnishik area
  6. Two picnic areas arranged for ecotourists
Wildlife Corridor
2008 – 2009
  1. Assessment of flora and fauna, especially threatened and endemic species, through GIS mapping and database maintenance
  2. Wildlife corridor in southern Armenia mapped and described
  3. Reports on legal and socio-economic status of the corridor
  4. Protected area planning, community development projects and spatial prioritization of urgent conservation activities
2009 – 2010
  1. Initial database compilation and GIS mapping on land tenure pattern in the planned Gnishik protected area
  2. Capacity-building for the regional environmental inspections in Gegharqunik, Vayots Dzor and Syunik provinces including advanced training courses, equipment, uniforms and off-road vehicles
  3. A kick-off workshop on the establishment of Gnishik protected area
Awareness Raising
2007 – 2008
  1. The leopard conservation campaign plan (international expert Mr. Karl Wagner from Austria)
  2. Popular games, dissemination of illustrated materials, contests and award-winning ceremonies organized in 5 villages and 2 towns of southern Armenia with involvement of 341 schoolchildren
2008 – 2009
  1. A month-long campaign organized at the Marriott Hotel including the sales of nature-oriented souvenirs, photo exhibition and presentation of a film and a video clip
  2. The World Environment Day on June 5, 2009 marked by production and presentation of a documentary “Poaching” and photo exhibition
2009 – 2010
  1. Wall, pocket and desk calendars of 2010 published in English and Armenian and widely disseminated
  2. A series of environmental contests organized at 5 secondary schools of Yerevan in March-April 2010
  3. The Leopard Day organized on 22 May 2010 at the Yerevan Zoo with participation of schoolchildren, puppet theatre, students, officials and mass media
Community Development
  1. A model project on community-based ecotourism development launched in Shatin village, Vayots Dzor Province
  2. The wildlife-spotting pavilion (observation point) constructed in Shatin, with particular emphasis on watching threatened bezoar goats (Capra aegagrus)
  3. Binoculars and spotting scopes for the pavilion
  4. Billboards and leaflets for the promotion of the pavilion
2008 – 2009
  1. Awareness-raising in the Symphony of Stones Natural Monument (Garni Village)
  2. Establishment of bee-keeping farms in Gnishik and Nerkin Hand villages in Vayots Dzor and Syunik Provinces
2009 – 2010
  1. A room furnished and equipped in the house near the observation point in Shatin village as a B&B
  2. Goods, materials and equipment (barley seeds, tractor, etc.) provided to Gnishik village near the planned Gnishik protected area
2010 – 2011
  1. One B&B in Tatev village in Syunik Province renovated, furnished and equipped
  2. The Nature Tourism Development Centre
  3. The website for the Development Center
2011 – 2012
  1. Four packaging and labeling points for organic products established in four communities: one in Garni Community near Khosrov Forest State Reserve, the second in Tsamakaberd Community between Sevan National Park and Dilijan National Park, the third in Areni Community near Gnishik Planned Protected Area, and the fourth in Chakaten Community near Shikahogh State reserve and neighbouring Zangezur Sanctuary, Khustup Planned Protected Area and Arevik National Park
  2. Labels with corresponding design for particular product as well as packages and cans provided to the four points
  3. Publication of a booklet on the organic products
  4. Training on B&B services and products marketing for communities
  5. Updates of the Nature Tourism Development Center website with organic products and new services by protected areas and communities
Funding Organization(s) / Donor(s):
Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Implementing Organization(s):
WWF-Norway and WWF-Armenia

Project Implementation Location:
Kotayk, Ararat, Vayots Dzor, Syunik Provinces and Yerevan, Republic of Armenia

Project Duration:
2007 – 2012


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