Azerbaijan accuses Armenia of deforesting the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh location, but satellite details tells a diverse story
The governing administration of Azerbaijan is weaponising the forests and animals of Nagorno-Karabakh in peace talks with its neighbour Armenia.
The two countries fought a six-week war more than the region in 2020. Immediately after countless numbers of deaths, Azerbaijan’s army emerged victorious. Its federal government now promises it is suing Armenia for alleged environmental destruction through the 30 several years it beforehand managed the territory.
On 18 January, Azerbaijan’s overseas ministry accused Armenia of “widespread deforestation, unsustainable logging, and pollution by means of significant construction and mining” in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
It claimed in a press launch this was the initially recognised inter-state arbitration beneath the Council of Europe’s Bern Convention on the conservation of wildlife and pure habitats.
These days, Azerbaijan has launched the very first identified arbitration scenario concerning failure to preserve habitats and species less than the Bern Conference on Conservation of European Wildlife and Purely natural Habitats – https://t.co/T9w2EiYUkO
— Elnur Mammadov (@ElnurIMammadov) January 19, 2023
Experts explained to Weather Household that no arbitration ask for experienced been officially submitted, forests fared better beneath Armenia’s management than Azerbaijan’s and the situation had an “element of propaganda” to it.
The two sides have fought over the location, on and off, for additional than 100 a long time. Through the Soviet era, it was an autonomous enclave inside of Azerbaijan, with an ethnic Armenian the vast majority populace. Following the Soviet Union collapsed, Armenia took about. In 2008, the UN common assembly took Azerbaijan’s facet.
The conflict reignited in 2020 and Armenia gave up regulate to Azerbaijan and to Russian peacekeepers. Fighting has now stopped and talks over a very long-expression settlement continue on.
There is only 1 street connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. Individuals saying to be Azerbaijani environmental activists are blocking it.
Just one of the protesters is the chair of the Gals, Growth, Long term Community Union Gulshan Akhundova. She instructed Weather House that Armenians had been extracting “our minerals (gold and copper)” and sending them to Armenia and cutting down trees.
She reported that most of the protesters were being from Azerbaijani environmental NGOs and there are also represenatives of Azerbaijan’s setting ministry there.
Human Legal rights Look at claimed the blockade could have “dire humanitarian consequences”. It stops Armenians in the area finding important food stuff and providers or leaving for Armenia.
The governing administration of Azerbaijan invited the United Nations Surroundings Programme (Unep) to visit Nagorno-Karabakh in March 2022.
The visit was organised involving Azerbaijan’s setting ministry and Mahir Aliyev, Unep’s regional co-ordinator for Europe. Aliyev is from Azerbaijan, though he does not depict its governing administration.
Unep’s workforce was accompanied by environment ministry team all over the vacation, who organised all meetings and facilitated all visits. Sections of the location are protected with land mines.
The Unep team made a 45-web site report. In its push launch asserting the arbitration, the governing administration of Azerbaijan quoted selectively from this report.
It effectively explained that Unep had noted Armenia’s mining had induced “chemical pollution of h2o, soil, and [plants and animals]”. But it remaining out Unep’s conclusion that the abandonment of farms because of the conflict experienced led crops and wildlife to “re-build themselves”.
Unep further described that “new road design – released as component of the reconstruction generate in January 2021 – is also acquiring a major impression on forest address significantly the somewhere around ~80-kilometer highway segment concerning Fuzuli and Shusha”.
Zaur Shiriyev, an analyst from the International Disaster Team in Azerbaijan, explained Azerbaijan’s federal government began setting up this road as shortly as it took above the region in 2020. It is acknowledged as “victory road” in Azerbaijan. The authorities strategy to develop 1,500 km of streets in the “liberated lands”.
Following on the lookout at satellite data, Liz Goldman from World-wide Forest Watch, told Local climate Household: “There does not appear to be considerable tree protect reduction in the Nagorno-Karabakh location.”
In point, she stated that in between around 2000 and 2020, the location had gained additional tree cover than it misplaced. It misplaced 355 hectares and gained 2,310 hectares.
Goldman’s details covers just 20 yrs of the 30-12 months occupation. But it implies that Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev was incorrect to declare that “fifty to sixty thousand hectares of forest have been totally destroyed” by Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh.
“Tree address loss has been especially very low in the latest a long time but did improve to about 50 hectares in 2021,” Goldman claimed, “with decline appearing alongside streets.” Satellite knowledge shared with Weather House confirms that this tree decline is alongside Azerbaijan’s “victory road”.
Shiriyev instructed Weather Residence that both of those nations around the world had been generating statements and counter-promises against just about every other in intercontinental discussion boards as leverage in peace talks. “They see it as a force stage,” he reported, including “there is an aspect of propaganda for both of those sides”.
Talking through British community relations business Portland Communications, the federal government of Azerbaijan explained to Climate Home it had served papers immediately to Armenia.
A spokesperson for the Bern Convention’s secretariat reported that arbitration requests had to be created to them and “we haven’t acquired any request so far”.
The govt of Azerbaijan declined to be interviewed for this report and, at the time of publication, had not responded to published queries. The govt of Armenia did not reply and the Unep declined to comment.
This article was edited on 30 January to take out references to specific posts of the Bern conference