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Nature reserves of Azerbaijan

General info

The organisation of protected areas in Azerbaijan can be dated back to the mid-twentieth century, when the Shah established special lands for the protection of the animal population. The first protected area on the territory of the Caucasus was organised in 1910, when the Countess P.S. Uvarov suggested declaring the territory of Eldar pine grove on the slope of the Ellar-Oyugi Ridge (the territory where the strict reserve is currently functioning) a protected area. A tradition of the development of the SPNT in Azerbaijan lasts over 70 years: in Lesser Caucasus had been created ?Gey-Gel? strict reserve.

Currently in Azerbaijan there are functioning 14 strict nature reserves, with a total area of 191 200 hectares (about 2,2% of the country?s territory), 20 protected areas (zakaznic) with a total area of 379 000 hectares. Many, although not all, of the varied ecosystems of the country are represented in the protected area system.

All state nature reserves conduct ?Nature chronicles?. In 1985, a group of scientists, members of the Scientific Council of the State Nature Reserves of Azerbaijan, created a Manual ?On Nature chronicles conduct?. However, now scientific research in this field has been significantly limited due to lack of scientific staff in nature reserves.

According to the scientific research work-plans of the Institutes of Zoology and Botany of the Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan, scientific research is conducted by the Institutes staff.

Below are brief characteristics of the state reserves of the Azerbaijan Republic.

1. The Gey-Gel reserve was the first reserve in Azerbaijan. It was established in 1925 to protect and study the typical landscapes of mountain forests and sub-alpine area of the Lesser Caucasus, provision of the purity of water in the Gey-Gel Lake as a source of drinking water, as well as a unique grove of natural growing Eldar pine. The area of the reserve is 7 131 ha, of them 3 806 ha are forest tracts. It is situated in the northeastern part of the Lesser Caucasus Range at a height of 1100-3060 m.

The reserve consists of two territories ? main (the reserve itself) and subsidiary, which is called ?The Eldar Pine? grove. The distance between them is 80-85 km. The subsidiary part of the reserve is protected by the arid forest landscapes on the right bank of the Gabirli (lory) River near the border the Georgia, where on the slope of the ?The Eldar Oyugu? Ridge a unique natural grove of Eldar pine grove has been protected since the end of the 19th century and this area ca be referred to as the oldest specially protected area on the territory of Trans-Caucasian.

The flora of the reserve consists of 420 species of plants including 76 species of wood and bush types. About 20 species of flora are endemic to, the Caucasian region. They are guercus iberica, pinks, Troutfetter?s maple and others.

The fauna of the reserve is represented by many species of animals and birds, among which there are: Caucasian red deer, roe, badger, West-Caucasian aureate, Caucasian goat, brown bear, pine marter and stone marter, Griffon-vulture, partridge, and others. More than 50 species of birds are nesting in the reserve including 35 species in the forest area. The partridge (Alectoris kakelik) and Tetraogallus caspica (included in the Red Data Book) and others are nesting in the sub-alpine and Alpine zones.

The main protected objects are natural complexes of the middle mountain, forest, partially sub- alpine areas in the region of the northern slope of the Lesser Caucasus, as well as the ecosystems of the Gey-Gel, Maral-Gel, Zali-Gel and other mountain lakes.

2. The Zakatala reserve was established in 1929 on an area of 25 218 ha (including 48 ha of water reservoirs) with the purpose of protecting and studying the fauna and flora of the southern slope of the Greater Caucasus.

The reserve situates on the territory of Zakatala and Belokan districts, precisely in the middle part of the southern slope of the Major Caucasian Range, at a height of 650-3 646 m. The reserves territory is referred to by botanists as the Iberian area of the Caucasus flora province.

Contemporary flora of the reserve has more than a thousand species. Such representatives of ancient plants as rhododendron yellow, Lauroceratus officials, Caucasian billberry-bush, Taxus baccata, maple, Polypodiophyta and other are preserving on this territory. The main forest- forming species of the reserve ? Fagus orientalis, as well as Quercus iberica and Corylus colurna are also refereed to as ancient plants. The representatives of rare plants: Taxus baccata, apple-tree, ash-tree, birch-tree, alder-tree, cherry-tree, pear-tree and other are observed as well.

The fauna of the reserve is rich in species composition. They are: Dagestan aurochs, chamois, red deer, roe, brown bear, fox, badger, Mustela nivalis, pine marten and stone marten, lynx, squirrel and other. There are 104 species of birds, including some birds of prey, long-eared owl, golden eagle (Aquilla chrysaetos), Cerchneis tinnunculus, Neophron percnopterus, griffin (Gyps fulvus), bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), black vulture and other There are some rare, specially protected species of birds: bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetus), peregrine (Falco peregrinus), Tetraogallus, Accipiter badius, which are registered in the Red Data Book.

3. The Gizil-Agach reserve is situated in the southwestern coast of the Caspian on an area of 88 400 ha including 62 000 ha of water area. It was established in 1929 for the protection and reproduction of wintering and migratory waterfowl, water and steppe birds. In 1975, the reserve was classified as being of international significance, mainly as a habitat for waterfowl and coastal birds. The territory of the reserve is an important place for the rest and wintering of migratory birds in the Caspian region, where many bird species from northern Europe stay.

There are 248 species of birds in the reserve, including grey goose (Anser anser), white-fronted goose (Anser albifrons), Little hustard (Otis tetrax), Francolinus francolinus, Plegadis falcinellus, swans and others.

There are 54 species of fish in the water bodies of the reserve: sazan, kutum, pike perch, Rutilus frisii, Mugilidae, Salmonidae and others.

4. The Girkan reserve is in the Tallysh region and protects the landscape of humid subtropics. It was established in 1936.

The total area of the reserve is 2 976 ha and consists of two parts: its main task is to protect the endemic and rare vegetation of the Girkan type. The main, mountainous part of the reserve occupies an area of 2 815 ha including the slope of the Ulas Ridge with a height of up to 980 m, which is the transversal spur of the Peshtasar Ridge of the Tallish Mountains. The plain part of the reserve is situated on the Lenkoran Lowland, at a height of 15-20 m. It protects only preserved plot of rare lower forest of the Girkan type, which not long ago covered almost the whole Lenkoran Lowland.

Flora of the reserve consists of 1 900 species including 162 endemic, 95 rare and 38 endangered species. There are iron tree, tree-thorned acacia, zelcova, guercus castanifolia, ficus hyrcanys, etc.

There are many endemic and rare animals, particularly, among the representatives of ground molluscs and non-flying insects. The birds endemism is well represented, up to subspecies level, while the species level has a relatively poor representation.

The main protected object are the natural complexes of lowland and low mountainous forest areas of the Talysh region, including the unique well preserved plot of lower forest, the ecosystem of rare forests of the Gircan type.

The Turianchay reserve was established in 1958 on an area of 12 630 ha for the protection and restoration of arid-arch light forests and other natural resources; and for the localisation of centers of erosion at the foothills. The reserve is situated on the spurt of the Boz-Dag Ridge, in the southern foothills of the Greater Caucasus, on the Right Bank of the Turianchay River in the Agdash area of the Republic. Its territory lies at a height of 400-650 m and extends for the 35 km from east to west and for 5 km from north to south.

The reserve is situated in an area of semidesert and arid light forests, which mainly consists of pistachio, juniper, oak, having an important soil protecting, water protecting and climatic significance.

On the territory of the reserve 60 species of trees and bushes are growing. The main types of sparsely growing trees are: pistacia, indian juniper, prickly juniper, guercus iberica, ash-tree, celtis caucasicus and pomegranate. Moreover, guercus iberica, populus, willow, alder, elaeagnus and other trees also grow in this area. Two species ? juniper's and pomegranate ? are included in the Red Data Book of Azerbaijan.

There are 24 species of mammals and 112 species of birds, 20 species of reptiles and 3 species of amphibians in the reserve. Among mammals there are wild boar. Brown bear badger stone marten, lynx, jackal, wild cat, hare and others. Among the birds there are partridge, columbiformes, cretonnes tinnunculus, griffin, black vulture and others.

5. The Pirgulu reserve was established in 1968 for the protection of the typical natural complexes and landscapes of the Shamakha Plateau, which is one of the biggest districts of the south-eastern part of the Major Caucasian Ridge. The area of the reserve is 1 521 ha, 1 362 ha of which are forest tracts, where 45 rare and endemic species occur. The reserve consists of 3 parts- Arakchi ? situated on the slope of the Gart and Girkh-bulag mountains in the upper area of the forest tract (1 600-2 000 m) ?, Pirgulu ? which covers the forest part of the Pirgulu mountain (1 500 m) and is represented by a landscape of middle area forest tract, and Djangi ? which is a low mountainous plot covering the whole northern slope of the Djangi mountain (800-1 100 m).

The main protected object are forest ecosystems preserved near the eastern border of the modem forest area on the southern (south-eastern) microscopes of the Greater Caucasus; also some species of flora and fauna, such as Taxus baccata which are included in the Red Data Book. The dendraflora od the reserve accounts for 60 species, of which Caucasian hornbeam, oriental beech (Fagus orientalis), Guercus iberica are the main forest forming types of trees.

6. The Shirvan reserve was established in 1969 for the protection and reproduction of the Persian Gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa), waterfowl birds and typical plants of the Shirvan Lowland. The area is 25 800 ha, of which 3 500 ha are water reservoirs.

In the reserve there are several types of vegetation. The desert type is represented by Halocnemum (about 40% of the reserve?s territory) Halostachys and Salicornia formations developed on solonchaks.

The ornitofauna is poorly studied, but according to existing data there are bustard, little bustard, Francolinus francolinus, white-tailed eagle, steppe eagle, peregrin, sake falcon and others. In winter, there are many migratory birds on the water bodies: gray goose, mallard duck, pintial and others. Among amphibians there are green toad, Hylidae, and Lake Frog. Among reptiles there are swamp, caspian and mediterranean turtles, lizar, water snake (Natrix natrix) and water snake, Vipera lebetina and others.

Among rare mammal species there are Persian Gazelle (Gazelle subgutturosa), wild boar, wolf, jungl cat (Felis chaus), fox, badger, European hare and others. Persian Gazelle, Francolinus francolinus, little bustard, white tailed eagle, steppe eagle, peregrin, saker falcon and mediterranean turtle are listed in the Red Data Book.

7. The Basutchay reserve was established in 1974 on an area of 117 ha for the protection of a unique platan grove, which is the biggest in the world. It is situated in the Zangelan district in the valley of the Basutcay River in the eastern part of the Lesser Caucasus. Its territory mainly covers the riverbed areas and stretches for 15 km with a width of 150-200 m.

The territory of the reserve lies on the border of moderate and arid forests. On the slope of the right bank of the river there are forests consisting of guercus iberica and Caucasian hornbeam, while on the hilly plateau of the left bank, forests of Celtic caucasica and Indian Juniper, Pistacia and others are developed. The reserve is under occupation.

8. The Ag-Gel reserve was established in 1978 for the preservation of migrating routes, areas of wintering and nesting of waterfowl and wader birds, as well as for the breeding of commercial fish species. The area of 4 400 ha covers the water area of the Ag-Gel Lake (white lake). The reserve is situated in the Mill steppe of the Kour-Araz Lowland.

The following areas and plant groups are distinguished in the reserve: deep-water stretches, shallow stretches, reed bushes, islands, salines.

20 fish species inhabit the reserve: pike, carp, Erythroculter mongolicus and others. There are 134 bird species in the ornitofauna of the reserve, including 89 nesting birds. There are more than 30 specimen of Charadriformes and 24 specimen of Anseriformes. Among the birds occurring here there are species included in the Red Data Book ? Francolinus francolinus, white-tailed eagle, white pelicans, Dalmatin pelicans, Phoenicopteri, Branta ruficolis, Platalea leucordia, and others. Unique colonial nesting place of totimplate birds (Pelicaniformes) and Ciconiformes are preserved here, which are of great scientific and practical interest.

Among mammals, represented by 22 species, wild boar, coypu and cat (Felis chaus) are common.
The main protected objects are the water-swamp ecosystems of the Ag-Gel Lake, places of mass nesting, place of rest during migration and wintering for waterfowl and coastal birds.

9. The Gara-Yaz reserve was established in 1978 on an area of 4 900 ha for the protection and restoration of the Kour tugay forests.

The Gara-Yaz Reserve is in the western part of Azerbaijan. Its territory covers the flood lands of the Kura River and the Gara-Yaz Lowland on the left bank of the Kura River. In the region where the reserve is situated, the tugay forest and steppe lowland landscapes are typical. In the past, a continuous line of tugay forests extended along the middle and lower reaches of the Kour River, which did forests surround to an extent of 600 km.

The main protected objects are the biggest tracts of tugay forests of the middle reaches of the Kour River and the rare and endangered ecosystems of tugay. Along the river, shrubbery of willow, hawthorn, barberry, Elaeagnus and others grow.

Multi-layer tugays, where the main wood species ? Populus alba, oak, alder, bastard acacia (Robinia psuedoacacia) grow, are widely spread. Several zones can be distinguished in the complex of tugay vegetation of the reserve: oak-trees (850 ha), poplar (560 ha), acacia ? consisting of bastard acacia (Robinia pseudoacacia) (390 ha), elm-tree (167 ha), asp-trees (13 ha) and willow (5 ha).

The fauna of the reserve is specified. Coluber caucasicus, bustard (Otides) and Caucasian subspecies of otter (Lutranae) which are included in the Red data book.

10. The Ismailli reserve was established in 1981 on an area of 5 778 ha for the protection of the natural complexes of the central part of the southern slope of the Major Caucasus Range. It consists of two parts; the distance between them is about 1 km. The Topchi area is situated at a height of 800-2 250 m. Its length is 18 km, its width is 6 km and area is 5 589 ha. The Galigchi area is situated in the eastern part of the Alazan-Agricay valley, at a height of 600-650 m and this part protected mainly the natural forest of Guercus castanifolia (112 ha). In the Galigchi area, forests of oak-tree and hornbeam-trees are developed.

Beech, hornbeam and oak mainly represent the forest species ?, also there are forest of mapl and ash. The rare forests of the tertiary period, which consist of Taxus baccata and Guercus castanifolia, are of particular value. During the last century forests of this area were intensively felled. This resulted in the replacement of beech-oak forests by hornbeam and oak ? hornbeam forests with underbrush of shrubbery and buses of hawthorn, cornel, dog rose, meddler, cherry plum and others.

There are approximately 170 species of vertebrates in the reserve. There are 17 species of reptiles in the reserve. Amphibians are represented by 6 species.

The mammal fauna has been studied insufficiently. There are brown bear, wolf, jackal, marten, badger, red deer, roe, wild boar, chamois, Dagestan aurochs and others.

According to preliminary data there are 104 species of birds belonging to 13 orders. Such rare birds as Aquila chrysaetus, Gypaetus barbatus and others are nesting here.

11. The llisu reserve was established in 1987 on an area of 9 200 ha for the protection and restoration of the natural complex of the central part of the southern macroslope of the Geater Caucasus; the preservation of reserve and endangered species of flora and fauna, and the localisation of centers of erosion to lessen the threat of mud flows.

On the territory of the reserve there are about 300 vascular plants with more than 90 species of the arboreal-shrub type. The flora of the reserve includes endemic, rare and endangered species. The yew-tree (Taxus baccata) and Radde birch are included in the Red Data Book. 93% of the reserve is under broad-leaved forests. Dominating are oak, beech and hornbeam. Also, there are lime, nut, chestnut, ash, maple, etc.

More than 150 species of vertebrates inhabit the territory of the reserve and its fauna is the same as that of the southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus Range. On the territory of the reserve there are aurochs, deer, chamois, roe, bear, wild bear, marten and others. The territory of the reserve is inhabited by more than 90 species of birds belonging to 11 orders- black hawk, goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), kite, golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetus), Gypaetus peregrinus, bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), black vulture (Aegypius monachus), peregrin (Falco peregrinus), eagle owl (Bubo bubo), long-eared owl (Asio otus), scops owl (Otus scops), Picnae, etc. There are more than 60 species of passeriformes. Six species of vertebrates are included in the Red Data Book: wood snake (Coluber), golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetus), bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), duck hawk (Falco peregrinus), etc.

12. The Gara-Gel reserve was established in 1987 on an area of 300 ha for the protection of the unique ecosystem of the rare mountain Gara-Gel Lake, which is of glacier origin, and to guarantee the safety of the surrounding natural complex. The main protected objects are the ecosystem of the mountain Gara-Gel Lake.

The flora of the reserve includes 102 species and subspecies of vascular plants from 68 genera and 27 families. Such poorness of flora is explained by the fact that the reserve covers only the lake, and many rare and endemic species grow beyond the reserve area, but close to its borders. Mainly meadow communities with the dominance of Trifolium and Tragacantha and Astragalus represent the vegetation of he coastal area of the lake. He water-swamp flora and vegetation are poorly expressed because of the absolute height of the area. There are only two species of plants in the lake: Polygonurn amphibiurn and Ranunculus.

The reserve is an inter-republic reserve. The reserve is under occupation.

13. The Alti-Agach reserve was established in 1990 on an area 4 400 ha for the protection and restoration of the natural complex of the south-eastern slopes of the Greater Caucasus, the preservation of erosion processes, as well as provision for the reproduction of rare and valuable animal and plant species populations of the Alti-Agach-Khizi tract. 90,5% of the territory of the reserve is covered with broad-leaved forests, where oak, beech and hornbeam dominate, which constitute 99% of the forests.

Roe inhabits the reserve, bear, wild boar, lynx6, fox, marten, wolf, and others.

6 strict reserves and 4 protected areas are located in the mountain ? forest zone (most of them embrance the alpines as well). Besides, 3 protected areas are wholly located within the alpines ?, 4 reserves and 3 protected areas are wholly or partially located in the foothills; 5 reserves and 7 protected areas are on the lowland. 8 strict reserves are regarded as botanical. Due to the extreme significance of the protected objects 2 strict reserves (Gyzyl-Agach and Ag-Gel) and 8 of the protected areas (Minor Gyzyl-Agach, Ag-Gel, Sheki, Kusarchai, Barda, Uluduz, Apsheron and Glynany) are regarded as ornithological. There is neither a strict reserve nor a protected area that specialised in herpetology.

In the Azerbaijan certain natural complexes and are protected by the state in accordance with the adopted list of ?natural monument?. On this list are 37 paleontological and geological objects, more than 15 000 hectares of model indigenous types, endemic and valuable areas of forest and 2 083 trees of more than 100 years of age. All these objects are being protected and the State Committee on Ecology has registered and issued a passport for each ?natural monument?, and the local organs of executive power ensure their protection.

In whole the existing at present time protected areas are far from ensuring the conservation of the unique floristic, faunistic and landscape diversity in republic. Therefore the Academy of Science of Azerbaijan Republic has proposed the first perspective plan of the scientifically reasoned network of the protected area. Azerbaijanian scientists have prepared a ?Development Chart of the Specially Protected Natural territories Network of the Azerbaijan to 2010? (ECONET-AZERI), including practical issues of creation of new reserves and national parks.

The establishment of the new protected areas shall not only enhance the protected area of Azerbaijan by 500 000 hectares (6 % of the republic?s territory), but will also enable to set a real protection for the significant part of the landscape and biological diversity of Azerbaijan.

List of specially protected natural territories of Azerbaijan

Name of SPNT

IUCN category

Area (ha)

Year of creation

ZAPOVEDNIKS

Gey-Gel

1a

7 331

1925

Zakatala

1a

25 218

1929

Gyzyl-Agach

1a

88 400

1929

Turianchay

1a

12 630

1958

Pirculi

1a

1 512

1968

Shirvan

1a

25 800

1969

Ghirkan

1a

2 906

1969

Basutchay

1a

107

1974

Ag-Gel

1a

4 400

1978

Garayazy

1a

4 900

1978

Ismailly

1a

5 778

1979

Ilisu

1a

9 200

1987

Gara-Gel

1a

300

1987

Alty-Agach

1a

4 400

1990

ZAKAZNIKS

Gara-Yazy-Akstafa

4

12 000

1923

Sheki

4

9 100

1954

Glinany Island

4

20 000

1961

Lachin

4

150

1961

Byandovan

4

30 000

1961

Gerchay

4

15 000

1961

Ag-Gel

4

4 600

1964

Gusar

4

15 000

1964

Shamkhor

4

10 000

1964

Barda

4

7 600

1966

Ismailly

4

40 000

1969

Absheron

4

800

1969

Zuvand

4

15 000

1969

Ordubad

4

40 000

1969

Gubadly

4

20 000

1969

Gizil-Agach

4

10 700

1978

Giziljan

4

5 100

1984

Dashalty

4

450

1988

Gabala

4

39 700

1993

Arazboyu

4

2 200

1993



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