Land-Cover and Land Use Mapping Results for the Ararat Valley Summarized

On June 19, ASPIRED Project presented the results of the land-cover/use classification on Ararat Valley to the representatives of the Ministries of Nature Protection, Agriculture, Energy Infrastructures and Natural Resources, research and academic institutions. One of the objectives of the ASPIRED Project is to improve the data on the groundwater resources of Ararat Valley, by enhancing current mechanisms of data collection, processing and maintenance.

Simon Papyan, the Head of the  Environmental Monitoring and Information Center of the Ministry of Nature Protection thanked USAID for continuous efforts to develop the water management sector of Armenia. Acknowledging the sophisticated analysis done by the ASPIRED Project team, he emphasized that the environmental challenges of the region should be considered in the context of the nexus between the land use and water use issues of the Ararat Valley. The ASPIRED Project used high-resolution satellite imagery Sentinel-2 and the European Environmental Agency’s CORINE (Coordinated Information on the Environment)  system to perform the land cover and land use classification of the Ararat Valley. The satellite images  were processed to identify the problematic areas requiring additional clarification through ground-truthing with the use of GPS devices. As a final product, ASPIRED has a land cover/use map prepared for the Ararat Valley which was provided to the stakeholders along with the available databases.

Ground-truthing to verify the data of satellite images

The Deputy Minister of Energy Infrastructures and Natural Resources, Vardan Gevorgyan, mentioned that the Republican Geological Fund also possessed significant amount of data and materials. There may be a need for technical discussions between the ASPIRED and the Ministry specialists to verify the consistency between the two data sets.

The land use/cover data will help to generate the precipitation/run-off curves and estimate the hydrological balance, and, more importantly, the water demand and supply balance of the Ararat Valley’s Artesian Basin. The potential applications of these analytical tools are numerous, from environmental protection and hydrology to resource management and agriculture, providing the basis for more informed decision making on the use of available groundwater resources in the Ararat Valley.

Armen Harutyunyan, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, valued the lasting partnership between USAID and the Ministry of Agriculture. Discussing the modern techniques to data collection, Mr. Harutyunyan raised the importance of having a comprehensive electronic map of Armenia that would consolidate of diverse data from nature protection, agriculture, energy and other relevant sectors. He further noted that this might become the next important project of USAID and the Government of Armenia in the nearest future.