Climate change concerns everyone, and each of us needs to take responsibility for our actions to mitigate the impact we have on the planet, reduce global warming and help Nature regain its strength.
“My Forest Armenia” was founded in 2019 by Andre Gumuchdjian, a Belgian-Armenian philanthropist and entrepreneur. In the beginning, the idea was simply to offset carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels, as Andre felt strongly that future generations should not be burdened with cleaning up our own pollution.
But the scope of the project grew. In his own words, “As I got more involved in the project, I realized the crucial importance of forests for our own survival on this planet. Forests are incredibly complex ecosystems associated with numerous aspects of life on earth. For example, 80% of our water resources come from forests. If we want to have a country in a hundred years where people can live, they will need to have sufficient water resources. Aside from that, forests are essential to stop desertification, reduce soil erosion, lower temperatures, and increase humidity. Very importantly, the biodiversity that they represent is essential for ecosystems to be strong and to allow the human species to develop. The list does not stop there; the advantages of forests are too numerous to be detailed one by one.”
From the beginning, our objective was to have the highest quality, as only quality projects will ensure the success of afforestation. As large-scale quality seedlings are not available, it was quickly decided to collect seeds from local forests ourselves and start our own nurseries.
Everyone at My Forest Armenia shares the same vision that Armenia needs to have biodiversity-rich forests with strong ecosystems. We plant many different species of trees but also different species of shrubs as they attract insects, birds, etc., and contribute to sustaining biodiversity.
My Forest Armenia has a permanent staff of 16 in Yerevan and Vanadzor, plus 31 workers in the two nurseries and greenhouse. In fall and spring, we hire up to 240 people for planting and maintenance.
In our second year of planting, we already passed our medium-term goal and planted 426.000 trees.
Donating for reforestation has a triple benefit:
1. donors are compensating their own carbon emissions,
2. donors create forests in Armenia crucial for the country’s future and
3. they give work to hundreds of people in remote villages who do the actual work of planting and maintenance, thereby improving their economic situation.
In a short time, we realized that the workers planting the trees who first came for the money quickly realized the value and importance of their work. They feel a stronger bond with their land and understand that this will be for the benefit of their children and grandchildren.
By engaging in reforestation, we are slowly changing the mindset of the population; instead of thinking about how they can profit immediately from the land, people are now starting to think about how they can contribute to the country’s – and their own- long-term future. Instinctively, a new sense of pride, belonging, and hope takes place.
To paraphrase Audrey Hepburn: “Planting a forest is believing in the future.”
Be part of the future of Armenia, become a monthly donor: https://myforestarmenia.org/donate/
If you are a company and/or want to have a named forest, contact Lilith Martirosyan, Deputy Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org for a personal presentation.