The fires started on Friday, October 30th, when the dangerous white phosphorus munitions were used by Azerbaijani forces during escalating conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh and set on fire over 1815 hectares of its forests, as of November 2nd.
Usage of white phosphorus, a highly flammable substance, seriously threatens this biodiversity hotspot and is seen as a crime against natural ecosystems. “This region is well-known for its high rate of endemism and for being home to more than 6000 plant species, 153 species of mammals, 400 species of birds and other living organisms. Hundreds of plant and animal species found in Artsakh are listed both in the local Red Book and the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species having a protection status at a global level,” explain the organizations in the statement.
The situation poses a wider long-term threat, as described further in the statement sent to 77 addressees from the field of environmental protection: “Not only do these forests play a major role in preserving favorable environmental conditions for sustainable development, but local people are heavily dependent on these forests for their livelihoods. The usage of white phosphorus munitions by Azerbaijani forces in those forests will not only destroy valuable ecosystems & habitats and put threatened species at the risk of extinction, but will contaminate rivers & underground waters for years, thus turning into a major threat of regional scale for all the people and wildlife living in the region.”
Armenian minister of environment Romanos Petrosyan also called for preventing ecocide in in Nagorno-Karabakh by sending a letter to the executive secretaries of environmental conventions, international organizations and other partners.
EcoLur – Statement of 50 NGOs in Armenia on Use of Phosphorus Weapons in Artsakh Forests Address to International Community: https://www.ecolur.org/en/news/biodiversity/12807/
EcoLur – RA Minister of Environment Called for Preventing Ecocide in Artsakh: https://www.ecolur.org/en/news/officials/12810/