In September 2012, FPWC began to construct the Urtsadzor Eco-Training Center in the privately protected Caucasus Wildlife Refuge (CWR) located adjacent to the Urtsadzor community, in Ararat region. The intent of the project, which was supported by the UNDP Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme (SGP), was to involve the entire community in the management and long-term protection of the protected area.
The project emphasizes reduction of poverty and migration by offering employment opportunities in CWR, and prevention of habitat degradation and biodiversity loss by empowering villagers to undertake sustainable economic approaches.
Urtsadzor community locals became active participants in the building and supporting of the Eco-Training Center, as well as its maintenance, which has created numerous employment and income opportunities. The construction materials, trees, and other required materials for the construction of the Center have been purchased from local providers in Urtsadzor community.
Today, the newly constructed Eco-Training Center, which is equipped with solar panels, a sewage treatment system, and recycling containers, serves as a lodge for tourists, a scientific hub for researchers, and a venue for environmental education. The presentations, training programs and events in the center communicate to locals and guests the global importance of Armenia’s biodiversity.
The establishment of 2 Bed & Breakfasts was another important part of the project, which included hospitality and English lesson trainings for the local female hosts, offering them an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the ecotourism business.
The center as well as the B&Bs have significantly developed ecotourism in the area; tourism packages offer horseback riding, hiking, cultural and educational expeditions. Furthermore, FPWC continues the introduction of modern and innovative green technologies in Urtsadzor and neighboring villages to link nature conservation and sustainable community development in various areas.