Investigator:

Zachary Parisa and Samuel Price

Advisor: Chad Oliver

Description:

Background:

Armenia has suffered socioeconomic turmoil since the early 1990's. Following a catastrophic 1988 earthquake, the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union and war with neighboring Azerbaijan, wood has become the dominant fuel for domestic heating (Moreno-Sanchez 2005; Ley 2001; Ter-Gazarian 1995). Greater dependence on wood and land redistribution policies led to rapid deforestation and mounting grazing pressure on public pastures (Paul 1993). The result has been increased land degradation and erosion, reduced soil productivity, and diminished aquifer recharge due to increased surface water run-off (Snyder 2006). In response, the Armenian Tree Project (ATP) formed in 1994 to "assist the Armenian people in using trees to improve their standard of living and protect the global environment." Since then, the group has successfully implemented reforestation projects, environmental education, and social development initiatives. The ATP, in collaboration with the WWF and Hayntar (Armenian Forest Service), is now designing a sustainable management regime attempt to ask the following questions 1) where, when, and how should sustainable conservation efforts be carried-out? 2) Which stakeholders should be incorporated in the decision making process? 3) How should this be applied to management decisions given limited resources?

The proposed project aims to integrate existing metrics and models from environmental, economic, and social sciences as layers in a geographic information system (GIS) and develop a decision support system to help guide decision making concerning greatest need, and best practices (van der Horst 2006). Ultimately, this will yield tools to target forest and rangeland management activities that better serve the sustainable development needs in Armenia.

Remotely Sensed Data and Synthesis:

A suite of remotely sensed data including recent Landsat and Ikonos images will be obtained for the study area. Climate, soils, topography, historic forest coverage, species rangemaps, 1998 farm survey information, and 2001 Census data will be obtained from literature and institutional sources. A supervised classification of Landsat imagery will be conducted yielding a coverage map differentiating forest by type, rangeland by type, agricultural, and urban land use using ERDAS Imagine software. A fractal analysis will be conducted on Ikonos images using IDRISI software, and then classified, yielding a coverage map roughly differentiating public and private land tenure. Climate, soils, and topography coverage maps will be obtained from the American University of Armenia Environmental Research and Management Center. Field surveys, indicating individual/family unit market and non-market forest and rangeland good use, payment, revenue and interest are available from the ATP survey records. 2001 Census data, indicating area populations, income level, cost of living, area infrastructure and market information will be taken from the Republic of Armenia 2001 census public data and report. The result will be a multi-layered spatial delineation of common ecological and social regions for the Vanadzor region (McMahon 2001; Bestelmeyer 2006; Monger 2006; Ter-Gazarian 1991).