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Location Uzbekistan, Kashkadarya
Central coordinates 67o 25.53' East  38o 54.65' North
IBA criteria A1, A3
Area 110,105 ha
Altitude 1,750 - 4,425m
Year of IBA assessment 2008

Uzbekistan Society for the Protection of Birds (Affiliate)

Site description The Gissar State Nature Reserve is situated on the western mountainsides of the Gissar range between 1,750 and 4,349m and was established in 1985 when two independent nature reserves were merged. The first of these was the Kizilsuyskiy Nature Reserve, founded in 1975 for the protection of one of the best extensive juniper forests in the Western Pamoro-Alay, together with its fauna typical for this part of the Gissar range. The second was the Mirakinskiy Nature Reserve, founded in 1976 for the protection of the upper reaches and source of the Kashkadarya river and the Severtzov glacier (about 3.5 km long). The Gissar State Nature Reserve includes all of the natural complex of the upper belts of the western Gissar. The reserve’s relief is quite complicated. The Gissar range terminates at its eastern end in the impressive Fan mountains (average altitude 4,000-4,200m). The massif is deeply cut by large watercourses. In the south-west it divides into the fan-shaped ridges of the Baysuntau system. A combination of a complicated geological construction and peculiar climate has resulted in the development of a variety of landscapes. The upper reaches of the Kashkadarya are one of the warmest regions of Central Asia, often considered to be part of the dry subtropics. There are many rivers and streams flowing into the Kashkadarya, the largest being the Aksu, Hanaksu, Tanhasdarya and Kizildarya. They are fed by glaciers and levels peak in the second part of the summer. The nature reserve is rich in natural features, including one of the largest caves in Central Asia – the Cave of Amir Temur – kuragoni in the southern part of the reserve, which is situated at more than 2,900 m. There are also cave systems in the Kyrtau range, 50 km to the north of the nature reserve, which are amongst the largest in Central Asia. The upper reaches of the Aksu are famous for the beautiful Suut-Shar waterfall and there are smaller waterfalls in other parts of the reserve. Mature juniper forests cover less than 10% of the site, while open juniper forests and elfin woods cover approximately 20%. Open herbaceous associations, stony slopes, screes and rock dominate.

Key Biodiversity Large birds of prey include Gypaetus barbatus, Gyps fulvus, Aegypius monachus, Gyps himalayensis, Neophron percnopterus, Haliaeetus leucoryphus and Buteo rufinus, while owls include Otus scops, Asio otus and Athene noctua. Waterfowl and waders are rare. Galliformes include Alectoris chukar (frequent) and Tetraogallus himalayensis (common in the alpine zone). Cuculus canorus is common everywhere. Typical species of the upper reaches of the Aksu are Alcedo atthis, Terpsiphone paradise and Myophonus caeruleus. Upupa epops, Merops apiaster, Coracias garrulus, Caprimulgus europaeus and Riparia rupestris are common and typical of the low mountain areas. Corvus corax, Pica pica, Corvus corone, Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax, Pyrrhocorax graculus, Columba livia, Columba rupestris and Streptopelia turtur inhabit the alpine zone. There are many rock-loving species such as Sitta tephronota, Tichodroma muraria, Oenanthe hispanica and Oenanthe picata. Lanius minor, Lanius schaсh, Motacilla cinerea, Motacilla personata and Passer hispaniolensis occur in low mountain areas, with Cinclus cinclus, Cinclus pallasi, Remiz pendulinus, Luscinia megarhynchos, Acridotheres tristis, Emberiza bruniceps and Oriolus oriolus in the valleys. Dendrocopos leucopterus, Columba palumbus, Mycerobas carnipes, Carpodaсus erythrinus, Parus bokharensis, Phoenicurus caeruleocephalus, Phoenicurus ochruros, Phoenicurus erythrograstrus, Anthus spinoletta, Emberiza stewarti, Phylloscopus trochiloides and others are common in the juniper forests. Nine species are included in the Red Data Book of Uzbekistan: Ciconia nigra, Hieraaetus pennatus, Aquila nipalensis, Aquila chrysaetos, Gypaёtus barbatus, Aegypius monachus, Gyps fulvus, Gyps himalayensis and Falco cherrug. Two species - Aegypius monachus and Falco cherrug - are globally threatened.

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: Ursus arctos, Uncia uncia. The flora of the Western Gissar is typical of the mountains of Central Asia. It is rather rich in species composition and there is a considerable number of endemics. At least 1,500 species of vascular plant have been recorded in the Western Gissar within the Kashkadaryinskaya region of which at least 40 to 50 are strict endemics of the Western Gissar. The Western Gissar is poor in arboreal and shrubby plants - only about 60 species.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Himalayan Snowcock Tetraogallus himalayensis resident  1990-2005  10-650 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Saker Falcon Falco cherrug breeding  1996-2007  1-2 individuals  medium  A1  Endangered 
Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus resident  1980-2007  3-20 individuals  medium  A1  Near Threatened 
Himalayan Griffon Gyps himalayensis resident  1980-2007  1-4 individuals  medium  A3  Near Threatened 
Yellow-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus resident  1996-2005  4-40 individuals  good  A3  Least Concern 
Hume's Lark Calandrella acutirostris breeding  1990-2007  3-15 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Sulphur-bellied Warbler Phylloscopus griseolus breeding  1996-2005  1-4 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria breeding  1996-2005  1-3 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
White-winged Redstart Phoenicurus erythrogastrus breeding  1996-2005  1-3 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris breeding  1990-2005  1-4 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Brown Accentor Prunella fulvescens breeding  1996-2005  1-4 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta breeding  1990-2005  1-3 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Fire-fronted Serin Serinus pusillus breeding  1966-2005  2-5 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
White-winged Grosbeak Mycerobas carnipes resident  1996-2005  3-8 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2008 low not assessed low
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - agro-industry farming happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - nomadic grazing happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Agriculture and aquaculture wood and pulp plantations (includes afforestation) - small-holder plantations happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Biological resource use gathering terrestrial plants - unintentional effects (species being assessed is not the target) happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Biological resource use logging & wood harvesting - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low

Most of site (50-90%) covered (including the most critical parts for important bird species)  Not assessed  Substantive conservation measures are being implemented but these are not comprehensive and are limited by resources and capacity  low 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Gissarskiy State Nature Reserve 162,876 protected area contained by site 9,000  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Broadleaved deciduous; Mixed  25%
Shrubland Juniper scrub; Low bushes  4%
Grassland Humid  26%
Wetlands (inland) Rivers & streams; Water-fringe vegetation  4%
Rocky areas Inland cliffs; Scree, boulders & bare rocky areas  32%
Caves and subterranean habitats (non-aquatic)   -
Artificial - terrestrial Arable land; Forestry plantations  9%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture 10%
forestry 20%
military 10%
nature conservation and research 60%

Protection status The Gissar Nature Reserve protects the juniper forest complex and alpine zone of the Western Gissar – the large mountain region which is the source of the Surkhandarya. The nature reserve has been under anthropogenic influence for many years. It has a high significance for the monitoring of the natural environment and studying the dynamics of vegetation and animal populations. Many areas were ploughed and arboreal-bushy vegetation was collected for fuel. Today the natural vegetation is largely reinstated. All of the nature reserve has been subject to intensive grazing for a long time. Now grazing is stopped and regeneration is taking place. It is important to include within the nature reserve examples of the of middle-mountain zone, especially areas with abandoned gardens of Circassian walnut and the luxuriant vegetation found on speckled sandstone.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Gissar State Nature Reserve. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016

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