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Ecologists assess damage from forest fire in Armenia

Flames engulfed a considerable part of a nature reserve with centennial trees

EREVAN, August 15. /TASS/. The Khosrov Forest state reserve in Armenia has been considerably damaged by the fire, according to Armenian ecologists.

Armenian Nature Protection Minister Artsvik Minasyan said that the fire "harmed both the flora - centennial trees - and the fauna" of the Khosrov Forest. "The fire covered a considerable part of the nature reserve, which, according to environmental assessments, is a great damage," the minister stated.

Minasyan explained that the fire in the nature reserve "spread very quickly, and the taken measures were futile because of the landscape and dry hot weather." The minister reiterated that it was forbidden to cut grass and set up fire barriers in the nature reserve. "In light of this, the environment that has formed there presents a great danger," Minasyan said.

Director of the WWF -Armenia Karen Manvelyan, in his turn, said that, according to preliminary data, 2,733 hectares had been engulfed by the fire in the Khosrov Forest, 201 hectares of which are juniperic forests, 1,624 hectares are areas covered by grass and the rest is broad-leaved forests, the ecologist explained. The total area of juniperic forests in the Khosrov Forest is more than 800 hectares, he said. "The fire scorched through broad-leaved forests in which there were mostly oaks," the ecologists said.

He hopes that "the broad-leaved forests will restore."

The Armenian Nature Protection Ministry declared all volunteers who gathered in the Khosrov Forest to take part in the firefighting that the employees of this ministry and of the Emergencies Ministry "are coordinating and dispatching groups of volunteers to various parts of the nature reserve on the site.".