“My Forest Armenia” was founded in 2019 by Andre Gumuchdjian, a Belgian-Armenian philanthropist and entrepreneur. Initially, the idea was to offset our carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels. Andre felt that future generations should not be burdened with cleaning up previous generations’ pollution.
However, the scope of the project grew. In his own words, “As I got more involved in the project, I realized the crucial importance of forests for our own survival on this planet. Forests are incredibly complex ecosystems associated with numerous aspects of life on Earth. For example, 80% of our water resources come from forests. Also, the biodiversity they represent is essential for ecosystems to be strong and allow the human species to develop.”
Vahe Martisoryan was our very first employee. Andre and Vahe share the same vision. We need to have very high quality, as only quality projects will ensure our success and the success of our afforestation. Considering the lack of quality seedlings in sufficient quantities, Vahe proposed that we do all the steps of forest creation ourselves.
Today, we are a team of 50 people, and during planting and maintenance, up to 240 people join us. Our team represents various professions, and we are proud to have highly skilled specialists in their respective fields.
In our first year, we started by creating two nurseries in Lori Province to grow forest tree species. In 2021, in cooperation with the Armenian National Agrarian University, we built a greenhouse in front of their Vanadzor branch main building. This greenhouse has a dual function: the major part is dedicated to growing tree seedlings in containers, and another part serves for educational and research purposes for students and professors of the university.
In our second year, in November 2020, we started our very first planting in Shirakamut. At the end of the season in April 2021, we planted 140,000 trees. Today, our goal is to plant 800,000 trees yearly.
My Forest Armenia significantly improves the quality of life and the region’s socio-economic situation. In all the areas where we operate, workers are hired from the local and neighboring rural communities. Creating new forests has multiple benefits for the communities: in the short term, it creates income, while in the long run, forests provide a multitude of natural ecosystem services, such as clean air, soil erosion control, preservation of water resources, lower temperatures, more humidity․ All of this resulting in a better quality of life and better agricultural renderings, as well as opportunities for other economic activities such as eco-tourism, beekeeping, etc.