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Azerbaijan weaponises conservation regulation in battle with Armenia



Azerbaijan accuses Armenia of deforesting the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh area, however satellite tv for pc knowledge tells a distinct story

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

The 2 nations fought a six-week warfare over the area in 2020. After hundreds of deaths, Azerbaijan’s army emerged victorious. Its authorities now claims it’s suing Armenia for alleged environmental destruction in the course of the 30 years it beforehand managed the territory.

On 18 January, Azerbaijan’s overseas ministry accused Armenia of “widespread deforestation, unsustainable logging, and pollution through significant construction and mining” within the disputed area of Nagorno-Karabakh.

It claimed in a press launch this was the primary identified inter-state arbitration below the Council of Europe’s Bern Conference on the conservation of wildlife and pure habitats.

Specialists informed Local weather Dwelling that no arbitration request had been formally filed, forests fared higher below Armenia’s management than Azerbaijan’s and the case had an “element of propaganda” to it.

‘Environmentalists’ blockade

The 2 sides have fought over the area, on and off, for greater than 100 years. Throughout the Soviet period, it was an autonomous enclave inside Azerbaijan, with an ethnic Armenian majority inhabitants. After the Soviet Union collapsed, Armenia took over. In 2008, the UN basic meeting took Azerbaijan’s facet.

The battle reignited in 2020 and Armenia gave up management to Azerbaijan and to Russian peacekeepers. Combating has now stopped and talks over a long-term settlement proceed.

There is just one highway connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. Folks claiming to be Azerbaijani environmental activists are blocking it.

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

One of many protesters is the chair of the Girls, Improvement, Future Public Union Gulshan Akhundova. She informed Local weather Dwelling that Armenians have been extracting “our minerals (gold and copper)” and sending them to Armenia and reducing down bushes.

She stated that a lot of the protesters have been from Azerbaijani environmental NGOs and there are additionally represenatives of Azerbaijan’s atmosphere ministry there.

Human Rights Watch stated the blockade may have “dire humanitarian consequences”. It prevents Armenians within the area getting important meals and companies or leaving for Armenia.

A Russian peacekeeper overlooks Azerbaijani protesters blocking the principle highway to Armenia (Pic: Mahammad Turkman/WikiCommons )

Unep report

The federal government of Azerbaijan invited the United Nations Atmosphere Programme (Unep) to go to Nagorno-Karabakh in March 2022.

The go to was organised between Azerbaijan’s atmosphere ministry and Mahir Aliyev, Unep’s regional co-ordinator for Europe. Aliyev is from Azerbaijan, though he doesn’t symbolize its authorities.

Unep’s staff was accompanied by atmosphere ministry employees all through the journey, who organised all conferences and facilitated all visits. Elements of the area are lined with land mines.

The Unep staff produced a 45-page report. In its press launch saying the arbitration, the federal government of Azerbaijan quoted selectively from this report.

It appropriately stated that Unep had famous Armenia’s mining had brought about “chemical pollution of water, soil, and [plants and animals]”. But it surely omitted Unep’s conclusion that the abandonment of farms due to the battle had led crops and wildlife to “re-establish themselves”.

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

Victory Highway

Unep additional reported that “new road construction – launched as part of the reconstruction drive in January 2021 – is also having a significant impact on forest cover; particularly the approximately ~80-kilometer highway segment between Fuzuli and Shusha”.

Zaur Shiriyev, an analyst from the Worldwide Disaster Group in Azerbaijan, defined Azerbaijan’s authorities started constructing this highway as quickly because it took over the area in 2020. It is named “victory road” in Azerbaijan. The authorities plan to construct 1,500 km of roads within the “liberated lands”.

After taking a look at satellite tv for pc knowledge, Liz Goldman from World Forest Watch, informed Local weather Dwelling: “There does not appear to be significant tree cover loss in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.”

In reality, she stated that between roughly 2000 and 2020, the area had gained extra tree cowl than it misplaced. It misplaced 355 hectares and gained 2,310 hectares.

Goldman’s knowledge covers simply 20 years of the 30-year occupation. But it surely means that Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev was mistaken to declare that “fifty to sixty thousand hectares of forest have been completely destroyed” by Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“Tree cover loss has been especially low in recent years but did increase to about 50 hectares in 2021,” Goldman stated, “with loss appearing along roads.” Satellite tv for pc knowledge shared with Local weather Dwelling confirms that this tree loss is alongside Azerbaijan’s “victory road”.

‘Pressure point’

Shiriyev informed Local weather Dwelling that each nations have been making claims and counter-claims towards one another in worldwide boards as leverage in peace talks. “They see it as a pressure point,” he stated, including “there is an element of propaganda for both sides”.

Talking by means of British public relations agency Portland Communications, the federal government of Azerbaijan informed Local weather Dwelling that “confidentiality requirements” meant it was not capable of say which articles of the Bern Conference it was accusing Armenia of violating.

Its spokesperson stated it had served papers on to Armenia. A spokesperson for the Bern Conference’s secretariat stated that arbitration requests needed to be made to them and “we haven’t received any request so far”.

The federal government of Azerbaijan declined to be interviewed for this text and, on the time of publication, had not responded to written questions. The federal government of Armenia didn’t reply and the Unep declined to remark.

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