The Armenia Ministry of Environment Protection pledged on Friday to rehabilitate a nature reserve that has been seriously damaged by a massive wildfire.
The fire in the Khosrov Forest State Reserve erupted on August 12 and raged for at least four days before being extinguished by Armenian emergency workers with the help of a Russian firefighting plane. Officials say that it burned 360 hectares of woodland in the mountainous area southeast of Yerevan.
The Khosrov reserve occupies roughly 25,000 hectares of land. Around 9,000 hectares of it are forests that were originally planted in the 4th century A.D.
Environment Protection Minister Artsvik Minasian said his ministry will draw up a rehabilitation plan aimed at largely reversing the damage caused to the protected area in the next few years. Armenian and international experts will be involved in the effort, a ministry statement cited him as saying. Some international organizations have offered assistance to the he Armenian government, the statement added without elaborating.
Minasian’s press secretary, Marine Karapetian, said a team of ministry officials have been sent to the Khosrov reserve to inspect its burned sections and ascertain the damage. “After this examination is complete … the full picture will become clear and a plan of priority measures will be approved,” she said.
In her words, the plan will be implemented by an ad hoc task force. The ministry, she the official went on, may also completely ban hunting in at least some parts of the reserve.
Khosrov is one of Armenia’s main wild animal sanctuaries, with a large number of brown bears, wild boars, foxes, vultures and hundreds of other species inhabiting it. Minasian suggested that none of those mammals and birds was killed by the fire.