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Understanding the Forestry-Poverty Linkages in Rural Communities in Armenia

Rural households in Armenia are heavily reliant on fuelwood to meet their heating and energy needs. In addition to fuelwood, the forest-adjacent population uses the forests for various means, including shelter, fodder for grazing cattle, and a means to access grazing lands and to supplement their income by selling non-timber forest products. Many communities also benefit from ecosystem services provided by Armenia’s forests, including erosion and flood protection. 

However, Armenia’s forests, which make up between 6-12% of its total land area, have been in decline since the 1990s. Illegal logging, inadequate forest management and harvesting practices, uncontrolled grazing, fires, and the spread of insects and diseases continue to pose significant challenges. Much of the demand for wood is met through the informal sector, denying revenue that would otherwise have been collected by to the rural communities and by Hayantar, the state forest authority. Illegal logging also contributes to worsening watershed erosion, wood over-harvesting, and biodiversity loss. Unfortunately, current institutional structures are weak and underfunded, and are consequently insufficient for enacting sustainable forest management policies. At the current harvesting rate, with low forest cover, limited replanting, and no change in the direction of forest management, Armenia is facing a declining forest stock.


This activity aims to inform forest sector policies through a survey of rural communities on forest dependence and poverty in Armenia. The study will also contribute to higher-level understanding of linkages between poverty, forest dependence and rural energy use in the context of the World Bank global study being carried out in parallel. This work will build on progress made through the €6 million ENPI Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG) program by supporting the government, civil society and the private sector in the transition towards sustainable forest management practices across seven countries in the region.

The following activities and outputs are planned:

  1. Develop a household survey methodology and data collection strategy, in close collaboration with government counterparts including the National Statistical Service and the Ministry of Agriculture. 
  2. Test the household survey methodology and fuelwood value chain analysis to understand (i) how demand for and access to wood and other energy sources have evolved; (ii) the need to develop wood and alternative fuel resources in rural areas; (iii) how trees on farms, plantations, and community-run forest/agro-forest systems could fill this gap; and (iv) dependence on other forest products and ecosystem provisioning services broadly (e.g. berries, mushrooms, etc.). 
  3. Analyze results and prepare a report with recommendations.
  4. Contribute to global knowledge and methodological development on the linkage between forests, energy use and household wellbeing.  
  5. Disseminate findings among relevant stakeholders and partners.


This project has been completed.
Progress at completion: 

  1. Improved understanding of the relationship between forest use, poverty, and energy in Armenia (final report) 
  2. Systematic, quantitative and repeatable information on the role of sustainable forest management for rural households produced (survey; Forest-SWIFT, a high-frequency tool on forests’ contribution to poverty and livelihoods tested)

At the national level in Armenia, the study’s findings were and will continue to be shared with relevant decision makers in the forestry sector and national Statistics. These findings will be used to inform the development of a future lending operation in the forest sector. At the World Bank, the findings have contributed to the PROFOR-financed work ‘Understanding forests’ contributions to poverty reduction.’ 

These findings have also been shared with the community of practice of staff working on fuelwood consumption and energy issues in the South Caucasus and broader ECA region

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Last Updated : 06-24-2020