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Gagik Aghbalyan

Drones and Video Cameras: Official Promises Greater Monitoring of Armenia's Forests

Mikayel Manukyan, director of HayAntar, the state agency responsible for Armenia’s forests, told Hetq that his organization will no longer be a subdivision of the Ministry of Agriculture but will now report to the Minister of Nature Protection.

The move comes on the heels of a series of wildfires in Armenia and public calls for greater monitoring and improved management of the country’s dwindling virgin forests.

In addition to the jurisdictional change, entrance posts will be installed on roads leading to forested areas, along with video cameras.

Drones will be used to monitor the developments in the forests.

The government will also review the need to broaden the powers of HayAntar.

Currently, HayAntar is only authorized to file reports of violations.

Manukyan told Hetq that forest wardens should be given vehicles and arms to better monitor the fortests, and that they should be given a pay raise.

He said that the forests would remain open to all engaged in the legal activities of collecting firewood for sale or personal use, but would be off limits to those engaged in illegal business.

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