High-precision topographic and cartographic works carried out in liberated territories
"In the liberated territories, high-precision topographic and cartographic works were carried out in 8 towns, 23 villages, and settlements, as well as in the international airports of Zangilan and Fuzuli, on an area of 50,000 hectares, including park areas. This was stated by Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources Mukhtar Babayev at public hearings on the topic "Fighting the mine threat: the impact of explosive objects on the ecosystem" in Milli Majlis, Azernews reports.
"Topographic maps of different scales, an "electronic water map", an atlas of the natural resources of Garabagh and East Zangazur, and maps of economic regions have been prepared."
The Minister said that a wide infrastructure network for solid waste management in accordance with modern requirements is being created in the liberated territories.
Landfills have been identified in the regions, and these territories have been cleared of mines and unexploded ordnance. Sustainable management of construction waste has been initiated during the reconstruction of residential areas. Work has begun. By November 1, 2023, some 20,000 tonnes of such waste had been recycled.
Unfortunately, as a result of environmental terrorism, Garabagh and the eastern Zangazur region, which suffered extensive damage, are facing further consequences in the form of mines and unexploded ordnance. Therefore, we cannot take measures to restore the ecosystem due to the mine threat at the speed we want," the minister said.
More than 54,000 hectares of forest were destroyed during the occupation. A reforestation program has been developed and we have an opportunity to accelerate reforestation. Of course, this process must be coordinated with the demining plan. These works have already started in the cleared territories in the Zangilan, Jabrail, and Fuzuli districts.
The minister noted that, on the other hand, there is a need to carry out inventory works in order to determine the boundaries of forest fund lands, as well as the species composition, age groups, and forest reserves in the territories liberated from the occupation.
"To date, forest inventory works have been carried out by the remote sensing method only on 19 thousand hectares out of 260 thousand hectares of the total area of the forest fund of Zangilan district. The forest inventory works have been completed, as has the organization of protective measures.
Restoration of the activity of specially protected natural territories is also one of the priorities. For this purpose, it is necessary to define the boundaries of state natural reserves and wildlife sanctuaries, make an inventory of natural objects located there, and take the necessary protection measures," the minister said.
The Minister says that in connection with the implementation of the Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan of October 20, 2021 "On measures related to the organization of activities of the Besitchay State Nature Reserve", the sanitary-protective zone of the reserve was defined, and its charter and map were approved by a resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers.
"In order to study the components of biological diversity on the territory of the reserve, field research work was carried out in limited areas with the participation of scientists, and the current state of flora and fauna was studied. Eastern plane trees and other trees were removed. Half of the territory of the reserve, the area of which is 107 hectares, was destroyed, and in general, it caused great damage to the flora and fauna. However, in terms of mine and unexploded ordnance threats in the territory of the reserve, the completion of field research and inventory of natural objects, as well as the involvement of international experts in these works, are delayed.
It goes without saying that the restoration of the biodiversity and ecosystem of the Basitchay and Qaragöl State Nature Reserves, as well as the Gubadli, Arazboyun, Lachin, and Dashalta State Nature Reserves, is a long-term process. There are mine-related difficulties in establishing management, studying biodiversity, and reorganizing activities in these areas, which were neglected during the occupation. For this reason, in the next phase, these activities are planned in other protected areas.
Projects for the reintroduction of faunal species are also being implemented with a view to restoring the destroyed ecosystems in the liberated areas. For this purpose, gazelles have been released in the Jebrail district, and falcons and East Caucasian species in the Lachin district. Some 1 million fish fry of various species were released into the region's water basins in order to restore aquatic bioresources. Given the scale of environmental offenses committed in these territories during the period of occupation, as the mine problem is resolved, appropriate areas will be selected and measures for the treatment of fauna species considered traditional for the region will be expanded.
It is known that in the areas where fires break out, serious damage is caused to the ecological environment, biodiversity, and forest areas. Monitoring shows that during the past period, fires broke out on thousands of hectares of territories liberated from occupation. However, due to the danger of mines, there is a great risk of using manpower and ground equipment to extinguish fires.
In a number of cases, we are again facing danger in demined areas. Let me mention one fact. The Vaynali gold mine, located in the Zangilan district, has been cleared of mines, and exploration and preparatory work for exploitation has begun. However, unexploded ordnance brought by flood waters has again created a threat. ANAMA is therefore taking appropriate measures in these areas.
A special mention should be made of the activities of the Mine Action Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan, which provides security in the process of reconstruction of the territories liberated from occupation. We are grateful to the staff of ANAMA and other qualified agencies for their extremely risky work.
I am sure that the solution to the mine problem will give great impetus to the restoration of the forest fund and biodiversity in the region, the expansion of specially protected natural areas, the creation of national parks, the increase of green areas, and thus the restoration of the ecosystem in the liberated territories and the creation of a healthy environment.
In this regard, in order to prioritize environmental projects, we believe it is necessary to increase the area of clearance under the environmental section of the "Plan for clearing land from mines and unexploded ordnance" in the coming years.
In conclusion, I would like to emphasize the importance of today's event in the Milli Majlis. We believe that the truth about my terrorism will be more actively publicized in the international world," the Minister added.
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