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WWF-Armenia is concerned over the possibility of lease of the pastures in Syunik region to Iranians.
Head of the WWF Armenia Karen Manvelyan said at a press conference on Feb 11 that the lease of the pastures is an issue of not only national, but also environmental security, as overgrazing may lead to land degradation. "Actually, we are not against development of cattle breeding, but let our compatriots do that", he said.
Aram Aghasyan, Head of the Division of Specially Protected Areas Management of the Armenian Ministry of Nature Protection, said that at the moment the issue of the lease of pastures is being discussed at various departments, including the Ministries of Nature Protection and Agriculture. "No final decision has been made yet", he said.
To note, according to the statement of the Armenian Ministry of Territorial Administration, no specific decision has been made, and it is not even clear whether these lands will be community or state lands. A survey is being conducted at the moment. Notwithstanding this, the green activists and the "Pre- Parliament" set up by a number of public figures have already come out against the lease.
To recall, the World Bank is implementing a Community Agricultural Resource Management and Competitiveness (CARMAC) Project in Armenia. The cost of the project is 250 mln USD. It aims to improve the productivity and sustainability of the pasture/livestock livelihood systems. The project also includes the pastures in Syunik region, which may now be leased out to Iran.