Fire in Khosrov Forest reserve greatly damages plants and animals
A fire which broke out in the Khosrov Forest reserve area has greatly affected the local ecosystem, causing damage to both flora and fauna. The fire started on 12 August, and was only put out four days later. Heavy rain also helped the firefighting operations. However, the exact cause of the fire hasn’t been determined.
The Khosrov Forest state reserve is known for its rich and varied vegetation. More than half of Armenia’s flora, up to 1 849 species of plants, are concentrated here. The range of mountainous ecosystems provides habitats for 283 species of vertebrate animals.
According to experts, the fire has, first of all, affected reptiles, rodents and flying insects. Fortunately, other representatives of the local fauna haven’t been affected, though they have had to leave for safer areas. About 201ha. of juniper forests, 908ha. of oak woods and 162ha. of grass cover have also been burned.
“This reserve is of national, regional and international importance. More than half of the republic’s flora, consisting of top-class plant species, are located here. It provides a habitat for a vast variety of birds and mammals, including some endemic species, like the bezoar ibex (wild goat) and the Armenian mouflon (wild sheep). It will take decades to recover from the damage caused by the fire, as trees have also been affected. For example, it will take the juniper trees years to reach the same size as those that burned down,” noted Karine Danielyan, an environmentalist.
Hakob Manasaryan, the Chairman of the Armenian Greens Union, noted that it was almost impossible to restore the burned sections.
“It should be declared a day of mourning, because the burned sites had a great value at the national and international level. Recovery of this area is out of the question, because there were hundreds of unique plants and endemic trees in this territory. There were attempts made to cultivate Armenian juniper in different places using different methods, but all attempts were in vain.It’s a very hard task. It’s impossible to restore the symbiosis of plants and animals,” said Hakob Manasaryan.
This issue has stirred up active discussions on social media. The majority of social media users were surprised and outraged by the fact that it took the firefighters so long to put out the fire, including the fact that the was no proper equipment resulting in the Armenian authorities appealing to other countries for help. Of note was the Russian IL-76 firefighting planes which were involved in the operation.
“Don’t you realize that fires are inevitable in such heat in any warm country worldwide? Every year, fires break out in Australia and America and they last for weeks… You should have been more forethoughtful! It was quite obvious that it could happen in our country one day, wasn’t it?”
“How can we be referred to as a country if we can’t put out a fire and don’t have sufficient firefighting equipment?”