Armenia — Some 40 bushfires have swept 186 hectares of forests in Armenia this year against 53 fires and 472 hectares in 2011, Mr. Ruben Petrosyan, chief forester of Hayantar (Armenian Forest) state noncommercial organization, said on Thursday, June 7.
The most hazardous areas in Armenia in terms of fire are the Syunik and Lori provinces, he said.
Mr. Petrosyan said that fires are mainly caused by reckless human behavior, particularly by villagers who burn grass on pastures near forests igniting wildfires.
He said it is necessary to enhance public awareness and provide appropriate equipment to rural areas to prevent fires.
Some 2,500 hectares have been swallowed by fires for the last 12 years, he said. Of them, 1,500 were burnt during the last four years.
The chief forester said that a pilot project was implemented recently in Syunik involving three emergency teams, and, consequently, not a single fire has occurred in this province for two years.
Ms Nazeli Vardanyan, director of the NGO Forests of Armenia, pointed out some faults in the Armenian law in terms of bushfires saying there is only one provision related to bushfires, but this provision is declarative, rather than practical.
Ms Vardanyan said that any area, regardless of its location, can pose a fire hazard.
Currently, Armenia has 332,000 hectares of forests 11.17% less than in 1993.