OSCE helps develop Armenia’s wildfire management strategy

The conclusions of a report on the existing legislative, regulatory and institutional framework for wildfires risk management in Armenia were discussed at an OSCE-supported roundtable discussion in Yerevan today.

The event was organized by the OSCE Office in Yerevan and the Armenian Ministry of Emergency Situations in co-operation with the Global Fire Monitoring Centre (GFMC) within the Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC) and brings together some 40 representatives from relevant state agencies, civil society and international organizations.

“Wildfires are a threat in Armenia and the wider region and this issue cannot be solved by a single organization or a state agency. It is important to ensure the co-operation and consolidated efforts of state agencies, international and local organizations and the donor community to continuously enhance capacities to prevent and control wildfires,” said William Hanlon, Deputy Head of the OSCE Office in Yerevan. “The OSCE, through the ENVSEC, is ready to assist in creating a common platform for the various stakeholders to help to improve their performance in this field.”

The participants also discussed Armenia’s 2012 fire management action plan for forest and other land types and the strategy for its implementation.

Major-General Vrej Gabrielyan, the Deputy Director of the Armenian Rescue Service at the Ministry of Emergency Situations, said: “The issue discussed today is of strategic importance for Armenia. The country’s dry climatic conditions contribute to the risk of forest fires that could destroy trees and grass areas, and cause an ecological catastrophe, unless comprehensive and consistent efforts are taken to prevent and combat it.”

The discussion is part of an OSCE-led ENVSEC project aimed at improving forest fire management in the South Caucasus, as well as to help the countries formulating national forest fire management policies and implementation strategies, and enhance regional co-operation.

The ENVSEC is a partnership of six organizations – the OSCE, the UN Development Programme, the UN Environment Programme, the UN Economic Commission for Europe, Regional Environment Centre for Central and Eastern Europe and NATO as an associate partner – with the goal of identifying and addressing the links between the environment and security in participating countries and regions.

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