Council of Europe Renews “European Diploma for Protected Areas” for Armenia’s Khsorov Forest Reserve

On July 4, 2018, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe decided to renew the European Diplomas for Protected Areas to 20 areas in Europe, including the Khosrov Forest Reserve (Armenia)

The European Diploma for Protected Areas for the Khosrov Forest Reserve has been renewed for 10 more years (until July 10, 2028) under the following conditions: (See full text of renewal resolution HERE)

1. By 2020, design and adopt a management plan for the long-term conservation of the area which will include strategic aims and targets, an estimated budget and a time frame for its full implementation, as well as a monitoring mechanism for the assessment of the implemented management measures; the management plan should also consider a strategic approach for the development of sustainable tourism compatible with the carrying capacity of the Khosrov Forest Reserve and the preservation of its integrity as a strictly protected area.

2. Launch a political and administrative process aiming to sustain the preservation of the European interest of the area by means of expanding the territory of the reserve to better preserve the state of conservation of the key species (large carnivores and herbivores); removing the existing 11 enclaves along the border of the Khosrov Forest State Reserve; establishing a buffer zone with a clear protection regime and limits, minimising hunting and the effects of grazing on the reserve; addressing the issue of the “transit routes” that cross the reserve; and working to minimise their general impact on the natural assets of the diploma-holding area.

3. Maintain and sustain the legal regime as a strictly protected area for the Khosrov Forest State Reserve in the future law on the protection of nature currently under discussion in the parliament.

The Committee of Ministers also gave some recommendations to the Armenian authorities for its renewal:

1. As part of the new management plan, create and fund an awareness and training programme for local people, visitors and members of the staff of the reserve, in particular in relation to the management of litter and other waste, and to the development of sustainable tourism.

2. Secure the Khosrov Forest State Reserve administration capacities in the future, with the support of the Armenian authorities and external donors; provide staff with specific incentives to foster their interest in the preservation of the reserve and its value.

3. Assess the state of conservation of the wolf population (Canis lupus), both at national level and in the diploma-holding area and adapt the current legal and administrative regime of protection accordingly; design a “wolf concept” providing a general legal and administrative framework for the management of this species in Armenia, in line with the Bern Convention and the regulation of the European Diploma for Protected Areas.

The European Diploma for Protected Areas is a prestigious international award granted since 1965 by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. It recognises natural and semi-natural areas and landscapes of exceptional European importance for the preservation of biological, geological and landscape diversity and which are managed in an exemplary way.