Notes From Hairenik
I was walking down Vasken Sargsyan Street away from Republic Square last night and turned right on Khorenatsi to discover that the trees along the sidewalk near the park there and those along both sides of the road on the stretch between Zakyan and Mashdots Streets all had their limbs cut down to the upper trunk. These trees were healthy, high, and green through the end of last year, as I often walked down the street when heading towards Mashdots simply because it was a beautiful area. Now the trees have been desecrated through a process known as pollarding, a feeble attempt to protect the trees from disease or decay, yet another example of Armenian logic but an excellent excuse to sell wood by Yerevan authorities looking to make money through any possible means.

I am appalled to see the continuation of pollarding in Yerevan or in any other town or city for that matter, such as Vanadzor. It does nothing to protect the oak, maple, and other indigenous trees lining some of Yerevan’s streets. Some trees simply die from pollarding—those that have had their limbs cut multiple times or for the first. I am convinced that there is no other excuse to pollard trees other than for officials to earn extra cash for their pockets, especially during the winter when nearly all pollarding takes place.

Reforesting Armenia is a huge priority. The majority of people who are forced to cut down trees for fuel in remote areas do not plant new trees in their place—this is a fact. I have seen areas completely decimated of trees, with even the roots removed. Something is being done about this problem through the efforts of two organizations in particular—the Armenian Forests NGO, which is based in Armenia and is making huge strides, and the Armenia Tree Project, a diasporan organization still obsessed with planting decorative trees in Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide Memorial park but is making steps, albeit small ones, towards reforestation.

However, I could not find any information from these two organizations or any others regarding how they are implementing ways to persuade Yerevan authorities from ceasing pollarding and use alternative, modern ways to protect trees from disease. The Ministry of Agriculture, which presides over the “Hayandar” agency responsible for forest protection and is headed by ARF member Davit Lokian, is doing nothing about this problem—as far as I have been previously informed it is not doing a lot about forest protection either.

So what can we do to prevent further tree pollarding/cutting in Yerevan and keep the city looking beautiful? If someone has any ideas (or wants to make excuses as to why it should continue), please leave a comment.


Blogger Christian Garbis said...
I suppose I should point out since no one has left a comment about this topic that dealing with unneccessary pollarding, which is clearly destroying trees in many cases and is continuing--now along the Cascade Square--is going to need lobbying. The environmental organizations do not lobby because they are afraid of the repercussions from the government, and anyways getting politically involved seems to be too much work for Armenians here. It's the reason why the political situation of the country is the way it is. Naturally, "vochinch" is responsible for the pollarding issue as far as I'm concerned. Since no one apparently cares, I'm wondering why it's bothering me so much. Probably just for that very reason.

Anonymous Knarik O. Meneshian said...
We saw the pollarding, the ugly deforming of trees also in Gyumri, Garo. When my husband and I asked the locals why the trees were being cut in such a manner, the answers, depending on who was answering the question, were: It's good for the trees; The trees are blocking the sunlight; We cut the trees in order to heat our homes.

The pollarding of trees by those unfortunates who have no other means of heating their homes in the winter is understandable, but not the other two reasons that were given. The most worrisome situation of all regarding the cutting of trees, however, is the cutting down of large, beautiful trees. We saw the trucks in Gyumri piled high with such trees, and we were amazed at how many of them had been cut down.

Perhaps it is simply a matter of the "vocinch" mentality, as you say, and maybe in addition to that it is a matter of being uninformed. I wonder if public service messages on TV may be a way to begin informing the people of the dangers of both the pollarding and the cutting down of trees?

Anonymous nessuna said...
I think Armenian Tree Project has organized few protests against cutting trees during the last years. No?

Blogger Christian Garbis said...
ATP took part last year in a larger movement involving a dozen or so organizations about the preservation of Shikahogh Reserve. It also was one participant in a protest to prevent the cutting of trees to make way for a new cafe to be located near the "Kamerayin" Conservatory Hall on Moscovyan Street--the construction of the cafe will undoubtedly be completed this year as a cement foundation has already been poured. The later one was co-organized by Armenian Forests NGO. As far as I know, ATP hasn't taken part in any other protests before 2005, and it has never organized any protest movements. It would jeopardize their operations here to be politically involved.

Anonymous Zarchka said...
Chris, some five days ago I was at Cascade square, just the moment when some people in red uniforms were cutting the upper limbs of the trees. I didn�t hesitate to ask why there were doing it ( though I knew the answer). One of the workers said that it is necessary for the trees to grow better. Yes, it is obvious that every year the trees should be cut a little. My second question was how they knew what part to cut them from, because being a person who has spent half of her life in nature and having taken part in such works I noticed that they didn�t cut the branches from the proper places. This guy just shrugged his shoulders and said: �We do as we were taught�. In this case let me say that just there are no real specialists to deal with this matter. But in the whole don�t worry about this pollarding, you�ll see that they will bud and turn green very soon.

And what concerns the destruction of green areas and cutting down the trees mainly in surroundings of park of kamerayin tun� (Chamber House), it is an awful and shameful scene to see how the trees fall to the benefit of some �poorly rich� people's pockets. Every day I walk through that park and my heart sinks from that abominable view. And as once I said to my friend while crossing that park: �Look what enormous Chinese walls are erected instead of some non-lucrative trees�.
Even if they are planting new trees now, how long will it take until the new trees grow and give the same effect and amount of oxygen the fallen trees of 100 years old gave? I wonder how stupid must people be to cut trees especially when Armenia is a half arid and mountainous region.

Blogger Christian Garbis said...
I want to also point out that pollarding of trees is continuing on Tumanian Street. As in most cases, mostly young branches which have only grown from pollarded trunks in the last few years are being cut for no reason whatsoever. The branches are completely healthy from what I observed and were just beginning to bud new leaves. This problem is something that must be concerned about, it's not something to shrug off. Trees are dying in some cases, and clean air is ever harder to come by.

It takes a couple of years for a new tree limb to come out from the trunk and turn into something that actually resembles a branch. Once it reaches maturity it is cut. There's no reason for it. The limbs are not diseased, there's nothing wrong with the trees that I saw. It's being cut for firewood, if not for energy then for use when lighting barbeques. There's no other excuse. And it can't go on forever. Trees need to filter the tons of dust flying around the city and provide shade along with beauty--nothing else will. But 'vochinch' continues to prevail regarding this issue.

Vochinch, vochinch....

Blogger clancy said...
pollarding is an ugly practice that is only useful in a very small number of cases. In san francisco california i have sought to understand the purpose, and the government here says also it is good for the trees. ???? some pruning might be necessary, but cutting off all the branches on all the trees in a whole neighborhood is a depressing reminder that winter is here and that traditions, even ugly, ill thought out ones, are hard to extinguish