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Villagers Protest in Vain: Ministry Restricts them from Entering Dilijan Forest

The Ministry of Nature Protection has conducted a strict policy in regards to “Dilijan National Park” SNCO due to recent acts of illegal deforestation, abuse, and theft. The Ministry told Epress.am in reference to yesterday’s organized protests in Dilijan and its adjacent communities.

Yesterday, approximately 1,000 residents of Haghartsin, Teghut, and Gosh villages closed the interstate highway in protest demanding access to the “Dilijan National Park”, in order to cut down firewood, due to increases in gas prices and lack of firewood for the coming winter.

The Ministry denies that the villagers had permission to deforest, as they were promised the day before during the protest. Timber detected in the park would be distributed among the villagers, however, they will not be allowed to enter the forest, because, according to the Ministry, timber is often unsatisfactory and villagers would cut trees as well.

Inga Zarafyan, environmentalist, told Epress.am that to the villagers logic, if they were allowed to conduct illegal acts before, then they could continue to do it. According to Zarafyan, villagers should not even be allowed to enter the park to collect timber.

According to the environmentalist, the rights of the national park were already violated once when the park was not invited to public hearings about the construction of the Dilijan International School, despite the fact that construction was going to affect the forest.

To recall, the government decided to allocate 13,000 hectares (323 trees) from the “Dilijan National Park”’s economic zone to the Dilijan International School.