Trucks transporting felled young hornbeam trees are freely leaving the forest in Ahnidzor.
On May 17, this reporter was unable to track down the driver of a truck loaded with wood outside a home at the entrance to the village. The truck had no license plate. Cut lumber was scattered near the truck.
At around 3pm another truck loaded with lumber entered the village. The driver made out that he didn’t see our signal to stop and drove on.
Two trucks, this time with plates, were seen some 200 meters from the intersection of the Lorout and Ahnidzor villages, near the former Lorout cheese factory. They too were loaded with lumber.
The lumber was supposed to be moved to closed container trucks. I spotted a tall thin man next to the trucks. He was looking at me. By the time I photographed the trucks, the man disappeared. Actually, I was waiting for him to confront me
On the way to the village of Marts I started getting calls asking that I not write about what I had seen.
It’s a fact that there is no need to conceal the transportation of legally cut lumber or to request that nothing be written.
“If the forest was left in our hands, we wouldn’t let them cut it down. But it’s the ministry, or the prime minister, giving permission. Who knows for sure? They enter the forest not to cut down a few trees but to decimate it. This is the only portion of the Ahnidzor forest that remains,” said 80 year-old village resident Onik Abovyan, pointing to the mountain slope.
According to Mr. Abovyan, forest warden Melik is a native of Ahnidzor and doesn’t allow people to cut down trees next to the village.
Ahnidzor Mayor Vanik Karyan requested that I not look into whether the lumber being transported out of the forest was legal or not.
“If it weren’t for the lumber business our villagers wouldn’t have the money to buy flour to feed their families. I’m sincere about this. Let them go and take wood from those places where there is permitted cutting for maintenance reasons,” Karyan said.
“The waste isn’t profitable for the cutters. Young trees bring much better prices. If I went to the forest with a truck to bring out wood to sell, they wouldn’t let me. The guys who go in with cars have an agreement with the forest managers. These are issues that I cannot resolve on my own,” Karyan said.
Arayik Mejlumyan, who heads the forest utilization department at HayAntar, claimed that it was impermissible to transport wood from the forest without the correct financial papers. Nevertheless, those doing so not only lack such paperwork but have been known to use the same permit over and over again.
Vahe Karyan, Director of the Dsegh Forestry Enterprise, told this reporter that he plans to procure 3-4,000 cubic meters of wood this year. He couldn’t give a specific amount.
He also didn’t want to express an opinion as to whether the trucks we spotted earlier were carrying legally felled trees or not.
“If you provide me with the license plates we can check,” Karyan said.