Armenia is situated at the intersection of Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe. It is recognised internationally as a hotspot for biodiversity. Charismatic species such as wolves, lynxes and brown bears live in the wild in the country. Armenia also boasts a population of fifteen Persian leopards. Illegal poaching poses the main threat to the bigger animals. Their habitats are being endangered by overgrazing and mining.
The country has a large variety of landscapes. There is a diverse mix of verdant woodland and mountain meadows and swamps and semi-desert areas. Sevan Lake, which is the largest body of water in Armenia, is located in the central part of the country. The valleys are home to countless apricot, cherry and wild almond orchards. Many varieties of grain and fruit originated in this region.
IUCN NL has been active in this region since 2011. We support a local organisation that has set up the first private wildlife refuge in southern Caucasus: the Caucasus Wildlife Refuge. The refuge encompasses pieces of land leased from local communities. IUCN NL works in partnership with them to find the right balance between sustainable development and nature protection.
The protection measures are clearly bearing fruit because poaching has now been eliminated entirely. Wildlife populations are growing considerably. We help communities to operate nature areas sustainably so they can provide employment for young Armenians – many of whom emigrate to Russia – in small-scale agriculture, honey production, ecotourism, etc.
IUCN NL is acquainted with many organisations that focus on nature protection. We know who the key players are at all levels and have access to the responsible ministries.