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  Endangered Herbs in Armenia: Identification, Protection and Sustainable Harvesting
Source: Green Lane NGO
 
In February-December, 2012, Green Lane NGO implemented the project “Endangered Herbs in Armenia: Identification, Protection, and Sustainable Harvesting”, which was presented during the 2011 SunChild International Environmental Festival and was awarded the grant by FPWC and World Land Trust.
 
More than half of the 3600 species of plants in Armenia have medicinal qualities, from which 250 are used in food. 452 plant species are recorded in the Armenian “Red Book” (2011 edition), instead of 367 in the old one (which was published about 20 years ago), as well as 60 plant species facing extinction and 249 - more endangered. The rapid increase of plant numbers in the “Red Book” is mainly caused by the bad social economical conditions and poverty of rural population, as well as by low awareness about the right methods of plant reaping and cultivation. Putting into practice the cultivation of wild edible plants and herbs that are under extinction will promote the understanding and protection of symbiosis.
 
The aims of the project were to transfer knowledge about Armenia’s diverse plant species, their uses, the threats they face and the methods of sustainable harvesting. The project was intended for youth in grades 9 and 10.
 
In the scope of the project educational materials were prepared, which include the following topics: wild edible plants as food and medicine, general information about harvesting, drying and preserving/keeping of useful plants, information on a number of wide-spread and important plant species in the Republic of Armenia, their cultivation, harvesting, importance and preservation, as well as recipes of dishes and salads from wild edible plants.
 
The project had two stages: the in-class workshops organized in spring and the field days – in summer. The target areas of the project were the following 5 marzes/regions and villages in Armenia: Vayots Dzor marz - village Aghavnadzor, Armavir marz – village Lukashin, Syuniq marz - village Vaghatin, Tavush marz - village Gandzaqar and Lori marz – village Gargar.  
 
During the first stage of the project trainings were organized in the schools of the abovementioned following communities. Educational materials were disseminated among all participants. The workshops were guided by games and demonstrations of herbs. The children showed their interest in the topics and actively participated in the training process.  
 
The in-class workshops were followed by field days in the mountainous areas, where the herbs they had learned about tend to proliferate.
 
During the field days the schoolchildren toured in their local fields with a professional botanist and got acquainted to the herbs and wild plants specific to their area. They were taught about these plants’ peculiarities, methods of use and cultivation. The botanist discussed the importance of biodiversity protection. The schoolchildren learnt how to prepare herbaria. Some of the children had brought plant compositions they had prepared themselves. The field days helped them use the theoretical knowledge they had gained during the first phase of the project.
 
Overall, about 81 children and 10 teachers took part in the trainings and field days. As a result, 5 youth eco clubs were created, and the children became more involved in biodiversity protection and in the creation of a greener future.
 
Lia Asatryan
Environmental Projects Advisor
Green Lane Agricultural Assistance NGO
 


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