CIVICS/Field Trip to Lake Arpi, 2012

The field trip is part of the research activities of Socio-economic Tools for Integrated Conservation Planning in the Multi-Ethnic South Caucasus taking place in March 2012

Region of Lake Arpi
Region of Lake Arpi

March 22, 2012 (First Meetings in Yerevan, Armenia)Edit

Before we started our trip to the region of the National Park of Lake Arpi, Dr. Johanna Schott, Dr. Susanna Hakobyan and me met the Karen Manvelyan (head of WWF Armenia) and his co-worker Karen Karapetyan of the WWF at their office in Armenias Capital Yerevan Yerevan. They provided us with the Management Plan of the Lake Arpi National Park and agreed on an interview for the qualitative research about the work of the WWF in the region. Mr. Manvelyan provided us even more with the mobile numbers of the governours of the buffer zone villages. The most interesting aspect of the meeting was, that we got to know, that the national park planning was done in a bottom-up approach, and integrated the local viallges in the plans. The meeting was fruitful and we were faced positively to our trip. Afterwards, we met the director of the Acopian Centre of Environment at the American University of Armenia (AUA). The center made feasibility studies concerning the insects of the region of Lake Arpi and is looking forward to deepen their work there.

March 23, 2012( Trip to Gyumri, Shirka)Edit

We started our Trip at 08:00 in the morning from Yerevan to Gyumri. Gyumri is the capital of the province (Arm.: marz) Shirak, in whichs north-west part the national park of Lake Arpi is located. Dr. Schott and I took Dr. Hakobyan and Zaruhi Babayanjan for translation with us. We went there by a Marschrutka, a traditional minibus, which is common used in the caucasus region. While in Yerevan the wheater was cold, it was getting even colder on our way and Gyumri we saw the first time snow in Armenia on our trip. We arrived at about 12'o clock. Right after our arrival we met the governour of the village Ghazanchi. We contacted him right on our way. He told us about the process of the establishment of the national park. In the village of Ghazanchi the tourist infomation buliding was built in the last year, but it was still not working at our arrival. He told us, that mostly the people of his village are faced to a positve future concerning the national park, but are also afraid to lose their land. Right after the meeting we went to our hotel. Gyumri is still signed from the earthquake of 1988.

After we rested for a few minutes we went to our second meeting with the governour of Bavra. We went to the village of Bavra by Marschrutka. Did we thought, that in Gyumri the weather was cold and snowy, we were wrong. Driving to the region of Lake Arpi was impressing. It was getting higher and higher and the snow was getting more. People how left the minibus on our way were walking 10km to their villages, or even more throu 1 meter of snow. After driving more than 2 hrs by minibus we arrived at the village of Bavra. Bavra is the village of the region of Lake Arpi which is located the north, directly at the Georgian border. Bavra was the only reachable village at this time, as most villages are not directly connected to the highway. The village lost last land, throu the declaration of the borders of Georgia and Armenia and nowadays land (even the church), is not reachable for the villagers. We found out, that the village is not longer part of the buffer zone management of the national park. This was a surprising news. After our meeting with the governour, we couldn't get back to Gyumri by minibus, as the bus is driving in the winter period, just one, maybe two times a day. The govenour brought us back by his own car, luckily, he is was one of the few persons in the villages having one.

We arrivied in Gyumri in the late afternoon. We had a third meeting at this day. We met with the head of the organization Meghvik. Meghvik was founded after the earthquake as an orphanage. Nowadays it teaches children, independently of beeing an orphan. Mostly craft work is taught. The NGO is a good model of self help and initiative of a few people, who can achive a lot. The NGO is also working together with the WWF in the buffer zone management. It was planned to bring out beehives to villagers of the buffer zone in the comming spring (May). These beehives should be an additional income source for people in the region of Lake Arpi, but also supporting the national parks biodiversity.

March 24, 2012 (Gyumri)Edit

At the morning we met the local administration of the region of Gyumri. Right at the beginning they told us, that the national park director couldn't come from Yerevan to meet us. It was discussed about the integration of local people to the national planning. All over an bottom-up approach was used to establish the national park and integrate villagers. The administration promissed to provide us with maps and other additional material. Right after the meeting we went back to Yerevan.