Working Group arrived from the United States will provide short-term and long-term efficient assistance in the elimination and suppression of wildfires


On the initiative of the RA Ministry of Nature Protection (September 8), the officers of Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Working Group of the United States Forest Service (USFS): Dana Butler, Andrew Bower and USFS IP Coordinator in South Caucasus Countries Mariam Tevzadze accompanied by Rafael Sambu, Economic and Commercial officer at the US Embassy in Armenia as well as relevant heads of the RA MNP left for “Khosrov Forest” state reserve on September 9. Additionally, the specialists of WWF Armenia and Acopian Center for the Environment of the American University of Armenia (AUA) were engaged in the activities of the working group.

They first called at the administrative office of ''Khosrov Forest'' state reserve and at the museum the guests got acquainted with the burned site, biodiversity specimens through spatial mapping. The specialized working group has conducted surveys in a number of districts of the reserve for several days, composed reports and assessments. The team of experts monitored existing water systems, current firefighting systems /roads, rivers, wells/, thereby evaluated damage caused to the forest and grassy areas, the depth of topsoil properties.

Due to the monitoring executive conclusions will be presented later, though the members noted with satisfaction and astonishment that there was detected plant regrowth shortly after the wildfire, which certifies that root systems of plants are not damaged. Besides, leaflets of some broad-leaved trees damaged by the fire were found.

Rafael Sambu, Economic and Commercial officer at the US Embassy in Armenia emphasized, that they have been briefed about the disaster since then and suggested help and established a team of experts by inviting the latter to Armenia to assist in rehabilitation activities. According to the speaker, professional assessments will be issued to the NGOs as well.

Forest Genetics Specialist Andrew Bower stated, that natural reproduction should be encouraged at the reserve, which has already become noticeable.

Head of Division of Management of Specially Protected Areas of Nature and Arboretums of the RA MNP Bioresources Management Agency Aram Aghasyan noted that it envisages separating sample plots in burned areas to accomplish researches and monitoring, whereas the results of investigations will give the resources to further modeling and estimation of reproduction progress on natural ecosystems.

Hydrologist Dana Butler said, that risk assessment will be followed to prevent wildland fires.

On September 13 the group paid a visit to the forests of Artavan in order to get familiar with forest condition. According to USFS IP Coordinator in South Caucasus Countries Mariam Tevzadze, a team of experts of U.S. Forest Service will estimate damages and will come up with various proposals of short-term and long-term aid. The conclusion issued to the RA and US Governments may lay down a foundation for technical assistance.