During the first years of independence of Armenia, the population of the country because of the harsh economic situation put heavy pressure on nature. Unfortunately, with the development of the country, the overall attitude did not change. Therefore, Shen took over bringing changes in the field. We started with education putting special emphasis on the younger generation. The ultimate goal was to give the opportunity for sustainable development to the rural community population by involving them in organic agriculture and promoting environmental consciousness by promoting green public areas.
In 2010 Shen developed a textbook “Environment and Ecology” for secondary schools. The Ministry of Education and Science of RA recommended it as an extracurricular textbook for secondary school students. The demand for the textbook was so high that it had been published twice. So far 6,000 copies are distributed in rural school libraries.
Shen contributed to tackling the issue by implementing some other projects in this field. Thus, in 2002 Shen produced “Armenian Forests”, a documentary film on the critical condition of the forests, which was broadcasted by the first national TV channel.
One of the objectives of the Green Communities project is to plant trees on the roadsides, in the nearby areas of schools, kindergartens, and community and art centres. According to the contracts signed with the communities, the village municipalities and Community Action Groups are obliged to protect and maintenance of the trees. Shen follows up on the progress of that project through its regional offices.
In 2006 Shen launched a new initiative aiming at supporting the beneficiary communities to become clean and green. Since 2010 within the framework of the Green Communities project Shen donated forest and ornamental trees from its nursery to about 40 villages in Kotayk, Aragatsotn, and Gegharkunik marzes. As the annual monitorings show most of the trees are properly taken care of thus making the communities beautiful.
In 2010 Yalkezian Foundation (Canada) started to take part in these endeavors. With the support of the Foundation annually over 1,000 trees are provided to Shen's beneficiary villages all over the country. In all involved communities, the necessary construction and renovation of irrigation networks are being carried out.
The second objective of the Green Communities project is to facilitate the cleaning of the villages and further the organization of sustainable garbage removal. The first success was recorded in Berdavan of Tavush marz and Pambak of Gegharkunik marz where landfills were organised by the decrees of respective municipalities. The landfills were established with the direct involvement of CAGs, schoolchildren, and community members. The goal was to reach sustainability through providing paid (done by the residents) services. Today more than 40 villages organise and regularly implement garbage removal from their communities.
A complementary activity of this project was the introduction of biohumus production which, besides its direct benefits has a side effect of keeping the village roads clean. In 12 communities where people are engaged in animal husbandry, Shen organic agriculture extension group organized training on the production of humus and provided the interested community members with the necessary amount of Californian red worms. After 6 months Shen monitoring group found out that some farmers started to fertilize their apple orchards, and the number of biohumus piles grew. The success of the project will be replicated in other regions of Armenia.
The energy crisis of the first years of independence of Armenia had quite a negative impact on the environment and particularly the forests. At that time both rural and urban populations predominantly used to burn wood from forests. Although at the turn of the century and after that the relaunch of natural gas supply curb the use of firewood from forests the total area under the forests shrunk significantly currently reaching 8-9% of the country’s territory.
Reforestation – planting trees on a large scale and ensuring their survival is one of the main directions to solve the abovementioned problem. Therefore, Shen took responsibility to fill that gap within its humble capabilities. Particularly in 2006, Shen established a nursery of forest and ornamental trees near the Jraber community, Kotayk Marz, on a 3 ha area. The produced saplings are given for free to state forestry agencies, environmental NGOs, and rural communities for reforestation purposes. In 2008 on the 8 ha, area Hrazdan branch of Hayantar State Company planted an oak forest using the saplings from our nursery. Since 2010 Shen donates forest and ornamental trees from its nursery to villages in Kotayk, Aragatsotn, and Gegharkunik marzes.
Starting in 2017 with the support of Audemars Puigets Foundation we launched our first reforestation project. We have planted multicultural forests with a total area of 10 ha in Ttujur and 11 ha in Chambarak communities and continue planting so far.
Moreover, with the support of A Tree For You, we started planting a 5 ha multicultural forest in the lands of Dzoraglukh village of Aragatsotn Province, Armenia. The first phase of the project was completed in 2021 and 10.400 trees are already planted on the 2 ha of the above-mentioned 5 ha. On the previously prepared soil, we planted saplings of such species as oak, pine, high mountain maple, birch, oriental apple, and Caucasian pear. Taking into consideration that shrubs are very important for the biodiversity of the forest, we have also planted yellow acacia and cranberry bushes. There are still two phases ahead, at the end of which Dzoraglukh will have a 5 ha forest with 26.000 trees planted.