Shirakamut is our first afforestation area, which we planted in the fall of 2020. We mainly planted Caucasian oak, pines, wild pears, maples, and shrubs. The total area here is 86 ha, which we planned to cover by 2022. However, we planted only 30ha, 10ha of which were on semi-arid slopes directly facing South. We decided to hold off planting there until we are satisfied with the results on the 10ha with southern exposure and can be certain that a forest can grow there. The remaining 56 ha are also facing South.
First challenges and perseverance
After the severe drought in June of 2021, with temperatures climbing up to 27° at 2000 m altitude, we had lost many young seedlings planted in Shirakamut. But we are a perseverant bunch at My Forest Armenia and will not let ourselves be easily discouraged. We then took measures by installing two powerful pumps, about 3,000 meters of tubing, and eight hoses. We hired eight workers to water the seedlings using water from a nearby canal. Moreover, we replaced part of the dead seedlings with pine trees the following season, as the pine trees have a double advantage. They are more resistant to dryness and grow quickly, thereby creating some shade for deciduous trees.
This site is not an ideal location for reforestation because the major part of it has a primarily southern exposition and is very dry. Plants in the 20 ha are mostly doing well, and it is only in the 10 ha with southern orientation that plants are struggling. In 2022, we again tried to manually water the young plants with watering hoses. Still, the results were not up to expectations because, in such difficult conditions, plants need to be watered daily.
Experimenting with new techniques
We are determined to create a forest here no matter how difficult conditions are. During spring planting of 2023, we replanted around 1,000 plants on the southern slopes of the Shirakamut afforestation area. This year, we’re trying out a few new techniques: central among them is installing a drip irrigation system on a small area of around two hectares. Besides this, we will try three more variations: adding manure or shading the plants and combining both. We have thus four testing areas with different combinations of these aid factors.
The aim is to reveal which factor influences the survival of the trees the most in semi-arid areas. We will monitor the monitoring plots and will inform you of the results. As in everything related to reforestation, the results will only really become apparent in two to three years.
We are committed to finding solutions on this site, especially because the people of Shirakamut village are so enthusiastic and intensely hope to have a forest near their village. Many of them also participate in our planting campaigns on other sites. If we succeed, this will allow the afforestation of semi-arid areas that are less favorable to starting a forest and are becoming predominant in Armenia. Keep your fingers crossed for us. However, this is obviously more costly. If you want to help the people of Shirakamut have their forest, do make a donation! They will be very thankful!