By Anna Saghabalian
Environment Minister Vartan Ayvazian said on Friday that the Armenian government is successfully enforcing a three-year ban on the use of natural Christmas-trees which is aimed at shoring up the country’s endangered forests.
Ayvazian cited anecdotal evidence to claim that hardly any tree has been felled and sold in Armenia for the upcoming New Year and Christmas celebrations.
“Only last night a small batch of trees was imported from Russia,” he told reporters. “But otherwise, as you can see, there are no trees cut and sold in the Republic of Armenia.”
Armenian spruces and other pine trees were widely available for sale in Yerevan and other parts of the country until the introduction of the ban in 2002. They have since given way to imported artificial trees.
Still, Armenia’s traditionally biggest Christmas-tree traditionally placed can be considered a natural one. Dozens of pines have been used for erecting it in Yerevan’s sprawling Republic Square. Its decoration is due to be completed this weekend.
The Christmas-tree ban has done little to stop the continuing shrinkage of the country’s already scarce wooded areas. Environment protection groups warn that if the current trends continue Armenia could be left without any forests by 2024. They accuse the Environment Ministry and other government agencies of failing to stop illegal commercial logging, the principal cause of the deforestation.