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Location Turkmenistan, Balkan
Central coordinates 56o 25.13' East  38o 24.20' North
IBA criteria A1, A3
Area 211,421 ha
Altitude 375 - 1,906m
Year of IBA assessment 2005

BirdLife Central Asia Programme (BirdLife Direct Action Programme)

Site description The IBA is situated in the Balkan and Akhal regions of Turkmenistan. The site includes the valley of the river Sumbar (from the settlement of Dene to the district administrative centre of Magtymguly) and all of the right bank to the adjoining watersheds (on the line of mountains Tyazetoplan – Yokary - Aydere - Kesedag - Khasardag - Syunt - Isek). The landscape-ecological conditions are characteristic of the southwest part of the Kopetdag mountains, and are the northwest outpost of the Turkmen-Khorosan mountain system. The river Sumbar (right inflow of the Etrek) is the main water source in this area. The valley of the river upstream is narrow with flooded tugai woodland and cultivated gardens; much of the the middle course is cultivated; and throughout the valley there are settlements, farms and associated developments. The length of the river is 245 km (the watercourses connected with the IBA), the total area of the valley basin is 8,270 km2. Characteristic vegetation communities are those of the high foothills, and lower and middle zones of this part of the Kopetdag mountains.

Key Biodiversity The avifauna of the southwest Kopetdag includes about 190 species, of which half nest representing 48.7% and 23.6% respectively of the total avifauna of Turkmenistan and 31% of that of Central Asia. In the Southwest Kopetdag there are nine landscape-ecological ornithocomplexes - several rocky-desert areas, low and middle mountains, desertified low mountains, valleys and the upper mountain zone (Bukreev, 1995). Of the 41 species included in the Red Data Book of Turkmenistan, 16 occur at the site. Criteria А1 is applicable for Falco naumanni and Aegypius monachus. Aquila heliaca, Circus macrourus and Tetrax tetrax also occur but populations do not currently qualify. Criteria А3 applies for Oenanthe finschii and Oenanthe picata.

Non-bird biodiversity: In the Western Kopetdag as a whole, the following have been recorded: 79 species of ants, 23 - lepidopterans, 102 - orthopteroides, 2 - dermapterans, 160 - spiders, 4 - amphibians, 36 – reptiles and 76 - mammals. Amphibians - Bufo viridis, Bufo danatensis and Rana ridibunda are common. Reptiles – lizards - 16 species of the most numerous is considered to be Agama caucasica. Snakes – also 16 species, including the poisonous saw-scaled viper (Echis carinatus), Vipera lebetina and the cobra (Naja oxiana). Mammals - 76 species live in the Western Kopetdag. Up to 30% are endemic or sub-endemic to Kopetdag (Rossolimo, Pavlinov, 1982). Insectivores total 6 species. Bats are represented by 19 species. Rodents are represented by 19 species, some being very abundant. 17 species of predator occur in the IBA and adjoining districts. Ungulates are represented by wild boar and rare species such as ibex (Capra aegagrus) and wild sheep (Ovis ammon). The documented flora of the Southwest Kopetdag varies between 1,148 species and 1,266 (Gudkova and others., 1982). On the low foothills typical plants are species of Artemisia and Salsola, Poa sp, Carex sp, Alhagi persrum, etc. At heights from 600 to 800-900m above sea level xerophilous shrubs and trees grow - Palirus spina-christi, Celtis caucasica, Punica granatum, Cerasus microarpa, Ficus carica, Cotoneaster, Cystopteris, Zygophyllum sp, Amygdalus communis, Zizyphus jujuba, and in some area pistachio (Pistacia vera). In the higher mountain valleys, there is walnut (Juglans regia), Platanus orientalis, ash, quince, blackberry and grapes. On Syunt-Khasardag a ridge and in the Sumbar-Chandyr interfluve Juniperus turkomanica and hawthorn occur though scattered juniper trees can be found at heights of 600-700m.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
See-see Partridge Ammoperdix griseogularis resident  1995-2005  120-200 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Saker Falcon Falco cherrug resident  1985-1995  4-10 individuals  medium  A1  Endangered 
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni breeding  1985-1995  10-60 individuals  medium  A1  Least Concern 
Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus breeding  1985-1995  6-30 individuals  medium  A1  Near Threatened 
Eastern Rock-nuthatch Sitta tephronota resident  1995-2005  100-350 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Finsch's Wheatear Oenanthe finschii breeding  1995-2005  120-300 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Variable Wheatear Oenanthe picata breeding  1995-2005  200-550 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Grey-necked Bunting Emberiza buchanani breeding  1995-2005  360-430 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2005 very high not assessed not assessed
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) very rapid to severe deterioration high
Biological resource use logging & wood harvesting - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - abstraction of surface water (agricultural use) happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Sunt-Hasardag Nature Sanctuary or Partial Reserve 3,800 protected area overlaps with site 3,800  
Sunt-Khasardag State Nature Reserve 26,461 protected area overlaps with site 26,461  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest   50%
Shrubland   10%
Grassland   5%
Wetlands (inland)   5%
Rocky areas   25%
Artificial - terrestrial   5%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture 25%
forestry 5%
military 1%
nature conservation and research 68%
tourism/recreation 1%

Protection status Syunt-Khasardag State Reserve 26,461+ ha. Syunt-Khasardag Nature Sanctuary or Partial Reserve 38,000 ha = 64,461 ha for whole protected area. The Syunt-Khasardag reserve (established in 1978) fully represents the main landscape and ecological types of the middle elevations of the Southwestern Kopetdag dry subtropics. Relict plants such as Turkmen mandrake, wild pomegranate and wild grape occur. In 1990 the Syunt-Khasardagskiy zakaznik (38,000 ha) was established.

References 1. Ataev Ch.A. Reptiles of mountains of Turkmenistan. - - Ashgabat; Ylym, 1985. (in Russian). 2. Bukreev S.A. Birds of Syunt-Khasardag reserve and adjacent territories of Kopetdag (fauna, zoogeography, a problem of protection). - Abstract of a Ph.D. thesis. - Moscow, 1995. 25. (in Russian). 3. Bukreev S.A. Estimation of a role of reserve in protection of an ornithological variety of region of the representation (on an example of Syunt-Khasardag reserve and Southwest Kopetdag) // Reservation matters. 1996. - С.51-64. (in Russian). 4. Bukreev S.A. Ornithogeography and protection business of Turkmenistan. - Мoscow: Biodiversity conservation Center, 1997. – 156 p. (in Russian). 5. Gudkova E.P., Seyfullin E.M., Chopanov P.Ch. Abstract of flora of the Western Kopetdag. The Nature of the Western Kopetdag. - - Ashgabat: Ylym, 1982. - С.38-119. (in Russian). 6. Dlusskiy G.M., Zabelin S.I. 1985. Fauna of ants (Hymeropteta, Formictidae) of basin Sumbar river (southwest Kopetdag). // Vegetation and fauna of the Western Kopetdag. - - Ashgabat: Ylym. - 208-246. (in Russian). 7. Red Data book of Turkmenistan. - Vol.1. - - Ashgabat: Turkmenistan, 1999. – 368 p. (in Russian). 8. Kryzhanovsky O.L. Structure and an origin of ground fauna of Central Asia. – Мoscow. Academy of Sciences of the USSR, 1965. - 420. (in Russian). 9. Lavrov A.P. Soils. // Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic. - Ashgabat: Turkmen Soviet Encyclopedia. 1984.- 45-51. (in Russian). 10. Polozov S.A. Birds of Southwest Kopetdag // The Nature of the Western Kopetdag. - - Ashgabat: Ylym. 1982. - 158-202 p. (in Russian). 11. Polozov S.A., Pereladova O.B. 1990. Syunt-Khasardag reserve. // Reserves of USSR. Reserves of Central Asia and Kazakhstan. – Мoscow. 152-162 p. (in Russian). 12. Rossolimo O.L., Pavlinov I.Ya. Mammals of the Western Kopetdag. The Nature of the Western Kopet Dagh. - - Ashgabat: Ylym, 1982. - 203-228 p. (in Russian). 13. Fet V.Ya., Kamahina G.L. Vegetation of the Western Kopetdag. The Nature of the Western Kopet Dagh. - - Ashgabat: Ylym, 1982. - 32-37p. (in Russian). 14. Chernyahovskiy M.E. Orthopteroid insects of the Western Kopetdag. // Vegetation and fauna of the Western Kopetdag. - Ashgabat: Ylym.1985. - 262-271. (in Russian).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Sumbar. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016

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