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Location Turkmenistan, Balkan
Central coordinates 54o 37.27' East  39o 40.21' North
IBA criteria A1, A3
Area 177,916 ha
Altitude 400 - 1,883m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

BirdLife Central Asia Programme (BirdLife Direct Action Programme)

Site description The Uly Balkan mountain massif is located in the west of Turkmenistan and the IBA covers the Uly Balkan ridge. The northern border follows the largely inaccessible steep ridge between the Daanata and Balguyi wells, continues to the top of Arlan mountain, goes down a ridge on the southwest to the top of the Shakuli ridge (in the neighborhood of Djebel). The western border runs from the foot of Shakuli mountain to the top of Garaburun mountain (in the neighborhood of Balkanabat). The southern border follows the tops of the Garaburun and Inergyzyl ridges to the steepest eastern part of the ridge. The eastern border runs northeast along the bottom of the ridge as far as Danaata well. Uly Balkan is composed of limestones and sandstones. The northern slopes are steep, the southern cut by gorges and numerous courses of dry streams (up to 40-50 m deep). The plateau-like hilly surface of the ridge is broken by gorges which run in all directions. The highest mountain peaks are Arlan (1,883 m) and Chilgezat (1,408 m). The soils of the slopes and valleys are typical (300-700m) and less dark (800-1,800 m) sandy-loams (sierozems). The desert areas (below 800m), semi-desert and mountain-steppe landscapes are dominated by mountainous xerophytes and very rare open juniper forest. The site has an exceptionally dry and extreme continental climate. The average annual temperature in the neighborhood of Djebel is +16C (maximum in August +31C, minimum in December +4C) In the mountains at 1,600 m in the beginning of summer temperatures range from +35C in the afternoon to +5C at night. The annual temperature variation is 27C. The average annual rainfall at the bottom of the ridge is no more than 143 mm, at the top 300-400 mm. In the winter there is a significant amount of snow which lasts for 3-4 months. The princple water source is atmospheric precipitation, the majority (c76%) falling during the winter-spring season. The hydrographic network is very poor nand consists mainly of temporary streams, small springs (Arlan, Daderday, Unbelmez, Berkcheshme, etc.) and outflows of underground waters at tectonic breaks. There are many caves with depths up to several tens of metres. In the foothills there is a system of karst wells (Danaata, Balguyi, Gashaguyi, etc.). There are no permanaent settlements in the IBA, though there are facilities used by farmers associations and the forestry company Gek Gushak. Cultivated landscapes are virually undeveloped.

Key Biodiversity 129 species have been recorded in the IBA: residents - 23, nesting - 69, wintering - 17, passage – 105 and non-breeding – 3 species. The largest group is Passeriformes. Typical Falconiformes are Aquila chrysaetos, Gypaetus barbatus and Aegypius monachus, all with stable populations. Bubo bubo is also typical and there is one recent (and first) record of Falco peregrinus. Falco cherrug and Falco naumanni have not been recorded recently and may now be absent from the site. There are passage records of Aquila heliaca (12.06.1948 and 11.09.1995) but there were no observations during IBA fieldwork from 11-26.05.2007.

Non-bird biodiversity: The fauna of Uly Balkan and Kopet Dagh have the same origin. Amphibians - 1 species, reptiles - 19 species and mammals - 35 species. Insectivores - 3, Predators - 13, Artiodactyla - 2 , Lagomorpha - 1, Rodenta - 14 and Chiroptera - 1. Red Data Book of Turkmenistan (1999) species: Hyaena hyaena, Panthera pardus, Felis manul, Carpa aegagrus, Ovis vignei, Hystrix indica and Jaculus blanfordi. The flora of the IBA contains 475 species from 67 families. Ten families represent 62.5% of the species composition. In the low-mountain and the bottom part of the middle mountains Artemisia-Salsola desert communities are dominant, with black saxaul (Haloxylon aphyllum). Juniper-steppe communities are observed from 600-800 m. Typical stipa steppe (Stipa holosericea, S. capillata, S. sareptana, S. arabica, S. lessingiana, etc.) is found from 1,400-1,800 m. Juniperus turcomanica occurs throughout. Ten species of plants are listed in the Red Data Book of Turkmenistan (1999) including Anogramma leptophylla, Cheilanthes pteridioides, Juniperus turcomanica, Cleome turkmena, Reseda dshebeli and Malacocarpus critmifolius.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
See-see Partridge Ammoperdix griseogularis resident  2007  20-30 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus winter  2007  3-6 breeding pairs  good  A1  Near Threatened 
Desert Lark Ammomanes deserti resident  2007  10-12 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Streaked Scrub-warbler Scotocerca inquieta resident  2007  10-12 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Sykes's Warbler Hippolais rama breeding  2007  2-3 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Eastern Rock-nuthatch Sitta tephronota resident  2007  25-30 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Finsch's Wheatear Oenanthe finschii breeding  2007  9-10 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Variable Wheatear Oenanthe picata breeding  2007  16-17 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Desert Finch Rhodopechys obsoletus breeding  2007  10-11 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Grey-necked Bunting Emberiza buchanani breeding  2007  4-5 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Red-headed Bunting Emberiza bruniceps breeding  2007  2-3 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2007 medium not assessed not assessed
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - agro-industry grazing, ranching or farmin happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - unintentional effects (species is not the target) happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Broadleaved deciduous; Native coniferous; Wooded desert & semi-desert  12%
Shrubland Low bushes; Scrub  13%
Grassland Dry grassland on sandy soils; Steppes & dry calcareous  22%
Desert Desert & semi-desert - clay; Desert & semi-desert - salty; Desert & semi-desert - stony  20%
Rocky areas Inland cliffs; Scree, boulders & bare rocky areas  30%
Artificial - terrestrial Arable land  3%

Land ownership State.

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture 75%
forestry 12%
military 3%
tourism/recreation 5%
urban/industrial/transport 1%
not utilised 4%

Protection status Not protected.

References Ataev Ch.A. (1985). Reptiles of mountains of Turkmenistan. Ashgabat,Ylym. (in russian). Kucheruk V. (2005) Lagomorpha and rodents of deserts of Central Asia. Мoscow, GEOS. (in russian). Kurbanov D.K. (1988). The abstract of flora of Western low-mountain relief and middle mountains of Kopetdag. Ashgabat,Ylym. (in russian). Kuchuruk V., Tashlyev A.O. (1995) Mammals of Turkmenistan. Vol.1, Ashgabat,Ylym. (in russian). Rajapov M. R (1999) Red Data Book of Turkmenistan. Volume 1. Invertebrates and vertebrate animals. Ashgabat.Turkmenistan. (in russian). Rajapov M. (2002) Biodiversity Strategy and Action plan of Turkmenistan. Ashgabat. Turkmenistan.(in english). Rajapov M. (2002) Country study report on the status of Biodiversity of Turkmenistan. Ashgabat. Turkmenistan.(in english). Shukurov G. Sh. (1962). Fauna of vertebrate animals of mountains Bolshoi Balhan (Southwest Turkmenistan). Proceedings of the Turkmen Academy of Sciences TSSR, Ashgabat. (in russian).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Uly Balkan. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016

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