Armenia

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Arménie

Province de Siounik- Arménie © Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Landlocked within the high plains of the Lesser Caucasus, Armenia is the smallest of the former Soviet republics, with a land area of 29,800 km² – slightly smaller than Belgium. Armenia is an essentially mountainous country, 90% situated at an elevation of over 1,000 m, in an earthquake zone.

Issues

Pollution: copper mining in the Lori region near the Georgian border was banned on environmental grounds in 1970. However due to rising copper prices the relatively new Ministry of the Environment (established in 1994) gave the go-ahead for a resurrection of the operation. According to the Socio-Ecological Union, surface mining in Tegout (northern Armenia) will wipe out 357 ha of forest and 128,000 trees, and decimate the animal population. In fifteen years, the country has already lost 18% of its forest cover.

Water: the country’s water reserves are abundant but endangered. Water levels are dropping in Lake Sevan, perched at an elevation of 1,900 m to the east of the capital. Lake Sevan hosts a large number of Armenia’s fish reserves, but this natural resource in threatened and commercial fishing of the common whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus known locally as the sig) has been banned since 2007.

Nuclear energy: the Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant, 16 km from the Turkish border and built on a fault line, is still holding out against calls for its decommissioning. It supplies 40 to 50% of the country’s electricity. Dating to 1980, its decommissioning is not expected until 2016. In conjunction with Moscow, uranium prospecting is underway in the Syunik region, in the south-east.

Players

The WWF sponsors a campaign to protect the Caucasian leopard. The first environmental group was founded after the Chernobyl disaster; however others have since seen the light of day, such as the Association for Sustainable Human Development.

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armenia map
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