Azerbaijan accuses Armenia of deforesting the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, but satellite info tells a distinct tale

The govt of Azerbaijan is weaponising the forests and animals of Nagorno-Karabakh in peace talks with its neighbour Armenia.

The two nations fought a six-7 days war over the area in 2020. After thousands of fatalities, Azerbaijan’s military emerged victorious. Its governing administration now claims it is suing Armenia for alleged environmental destruction throughout the 30 many years it formerly controlled the territory.

On 18 January, Azerbaijan’s international ministry accused Armenia of “widespread deforestation, unsustainable logging, and air pollution through important development and mining” in the disputed area of Nagorno-Karabakh.

It claimed in a press launch this was the to start with recognised inter-condition arbitration below the Council of Europe’s Bern Convention on the conservation of wildlife and pure habitats.

Gurus instructed Local weather House that no arbitration ask for experienced been formally filed, forests fared improved below Armenia’s management than Azerbaijan’s and the scenario experienced an “element of propaganda” to it.

‘Environmentalists’ blockade

The two sides have fought about the location, on and off, for much more than 100 a long time. All through the Soviet period, it was an autonomous enclave within Azerbaijan, with an ethnic Armenian the vast majority population. Soon after the Soviet Union collapsed, Armenia took around. In 2008, the UN typical assembly took Azerbaijan’s facet.

The conflict reignited in 2020 and Armenia gave up control to Azerbaijan and to Russian peacekeepers. Combating has now stopped and talks in excess of a extensive-time period settlement keep on.

There is only one particular street connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. Folks boasting to be Azerbaijani environmental activists are blocking it.

Armenian leaders have accused them of being Azerbaijani and Turkish nationalists, encouraged by Azerbaijan’s authorities to blockade the territory.

One of the protesters is the chair of the Women, Enhancement, Future Community Union Gulshan Akhundova. She explained to Climate Dwelling that Armenians were extracting “our minerals (gold and copper)” and sending them to Armenia and slicing down trees.

She reported that most of the protesters had been from Azerbaijani environmental NGOs and there are also represenatives of Azerbaijan’s atmosphere ministry there.

Human Rights View reported the blockade could have “dire humanitarian consequences”. It stops Armenians in the area having crucial food stuff and products and services or leaving for Armenia.

A Russian peacekeeper overlooks Azerbaijani protesters blocking the most important road to Armenia (Pic: Mahammad Turkman/WikiCommons )

Unep report

The government of Azerbaijan invited the United Nations Ecosystem Programme (Unep) to pay a visit to Nagorno-Karabakh in March 2022.

The pay a visit to was organised amongst Azerbaijan’s ecosystem ministry and Mahir Aliyev, Unep’s regional co-ordinator for Europe. Aliyev is from Azerbaijan, even though he does not symbolize its federal government.

Unep’s staff was accompanied by environment ministry staff through the journey, who organised all meetings and facilitated all visits. Elements of the region are covered with land mines.

The Unep crew generated a 45-page report. In its push release announcing the arbitration, the government of Azerbaijan quoted selectively from this report.

It effectively said that Unep had mentioned Armenia’s mining had triggered “chemical pollution of h2o, soil, and [plants and animals]”. But it remaining out Unep’s summary that the abandonment of farms because of the conflict had led crops and wildlife to “re-establish themselves”.

A forest in Nagorno-Karabakh, as seen from Gandaszar monastery (Picture: Adam Jones)

Victory Road

Unep further more documented that “new highway design – introduced as part of the reconstruction travel in January 2021 – is also obtaining a sizeable affect on forest deal with particularly the about ~80-kilometer freeway section in between Fuzuli and Shusha”.

Zaur Shiriyev, an analyst from the Global Disaster Group in Azerbaijan, explained Azerbaijan’s government started building this street as soon as it took above the area in 2020. It is recognized as “victory road” in Azerbaijan. The authorities prepare to build 1,500 km of roads in the “liberated lands”.

After wanting at satellite knowledge, Liz Goldman from World Forest Observe, advised Local climate House: “There does not appear to be significant tree go over reduction in the Nagorno-Karabakh area.”

In simple fact, she stated that between approximately 2000 and 2020, the area had gained a lot more tree go over than it misplaced. It shed 355 hectares and obtained 2,310 hectares.

Goldman’s details addresses just 20 yrs of the 30-calendar year occupation. But it suggests that Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev was improper to assert that “fifty to sixty thousand hectares of forest have been wholly destroyed” by Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“Tree deal with loss has been particularly reduced in recent yrs but did maximize to about 50 hectares in 2021,” Goldman explained, “with reduction appearing along roadways.” Satellite details shared with Local climate House confirms that this tree decline is together Azerbaijan’s “victory road”.

‘Pressure point’

Shiriyev informed Local climate Residence that both equally countries ended up earning claims and counter-promises against each individual other in international message boards as leverage in peace talks. “They see it as a stress position,” he claimed, including “there is an aspect of propaganda for both equally sides”.

Speaking through British public relations organization Portland Communications, the government of Azerbaijan informed Weather Household that “confidentiality requirements” meant it was not able to say which content articles of the Bern Conference it was accusing Armenia of violating.

Its spokesperson explained it experienced served papers specifically to Armenia. A spokesperson for the Bern Convention’s secretariat reported that arbitration requests had to be built to them and “we haven’t gained any ask for so far”.

The authorities of Azerbaijan declined to be interviewed for this report and, at the time of publication, experienced not responded to penned questions. The authorities of Armenia did not answer and the Unep declined to remark.

Joe Lo


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