Implementation of measures for conservation of Vipera darevskii through the harmonized solution of biodiversity protection and social economic issues in the region (Shirak marz, Ashotsk district, Ghazanchi community)
Implementation of measures for conservation of Vipera darevskii through the harmonized solution of biodiversity protection and social economic issues in the region (Shirak marz, Ashotsk district, Ghazanchi community)
The Darevsky's viper is a critically endangered snake (IUCN category CR C2b) distributed only in Armenia's south-western part of the Javakheti Ridge.
The key determinant of viper existence is availability of flat stone plates which create optimal microclimate for vipers living in harsh highland conditions. Snakes live here all year round and use the spaces between slabs for hibernation and shelters. Land use for agriculture (hay grounds, crop lands and animal husbandry) and high selectivity of the species for habitats (subalpine meadow on elevations 2300-3000 m) are the principal threats to survival of the Darevsky’s viper. Population densities of vipers differ across sites, but can reach as much as 10-12 vipers per hectare. However, total number of snakes in the 7 known areas is only 250-300 individuals. Taking into account all areas of suitable habitats, we can extrapolate the size of the Daversky’s viper population as 900-1200 individuals. In April 2009, the transboundary Armenian-Georgian Lake Arpi National Park was established in the Ashotsk and Amasia districts of north-western Armenia within the project implemented by WWF Armenia and supported by the German Bank of Development and Reconstruction (KfW). Within this project, viper habitats located in western Javakheti Ridge planned to be incorporated to the fully protected reserve zone of the national park. The main threat to this species is habitat destruction resulting from uncontrolled livestock grazing and land use for agriculture. The Ghazanchi village doesn't have sustainable watering shelters for agriculture and drinking water. This project aimed to open drinking water shelter which will give opportunity for sustainable development of the community. In 2005-2008, within the projects supported by BP Conservation the Sustainable Development of Natural Ecosystems (SDNE) NGO members conducted comprehensive viper research and initiated the conservation affairs which we continue now. In particular, known areas of snake habitats (screes) were fenced off by metallic wire livestock trespassing and marked with information boards and signs as well as the livestock watering point was constructed in the Saragyugh village. Also, the key viper habitats were mapped and described and the awareness-raising workshops, campaigns and interviews were organized by in local communities.
SDNE NGO received SGP support to continue and expand the conservation activities to minimize human conflicts over land use and safeguard better future for the Daversky’s viper.
The principal goal of this project is to implement the targeted conservation actions within the Ghazanchi community through the following activities:
1. Fencing the key range patches (screes) by metallic wire to stop their destruction by livestock and humans and their landmarking by information boards;
2. Digging two (2) new watering ponds for livestock to prevent their movements upstream to the viper habitats in the headwaters during the hot summer periods when local streams dry up;
3. Development, together with community chief, the mechanisms of sustainable rotation-based livestock grazing
4. Drilling a tube well to ensure drinking water supply to the community
5. Enforcement of anti-poaching measures
6. Film-making about project implementation
7. Awareness-raising and environmental education of local community (brochures, booklets, guidelines, workshops and development of recommendations on alternative use of natural resources).

Please see film on project results at: (Armenian version)
and project photo story at: (Englsih version)
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Project Snapshot

Sustainable Development of Natural Ecosystems
Area Of Work:
Climate Change Mitigation
Land Degradation
Grant Amount:
US$ 36,420.00
Co-Financing Cash:
US$ 31,000.00
Co-Financing in-Kind:
US$ 12,650.00
Project Number:
Satisfactorily Completed
Project Characteristics and Results
Policy Impact
- Changes in local behavior, attitudes and motivations - Development and implementation of recommendations on alternative use of natural resources pursuant to the national BSAP (1999) and CBD
Policy Influence
- Local people are educated, trained and motivated; - Local people are well aware and participate in alternative use of natural resources
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Number of globally significant species protected by project 60
Hectares of globally significant biodiversity area protected or sustainably managed by project 23
Number and type of support linkages established with national government institutions 4
Number of households who have benefited* from SGP project 150


WWF-Armenian Branch

Grantee Contact

Mr. Levon Aghasyan
Phone: (+374 94) 134949


4/22 Davitashen Str., Apt. 66
Yerevan , 0054

SGP Country office contact

Mr. Hovhannes Ghazaryan
+374 60 530000+116
(+374 10) 543811
Ms. Svetlana Harutyunyan
+374 60 530000+117


14 Adamyan St.
Yerevan, 0010

Country Website