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Location Afghanistan, Ghazni
Central coordinates 67o 45.00' East  33o 50.00' North
IBA criteria A2, A3, A4i, A4iii
Area 70,000 ha
Altitude 3,200 m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Site description Dashte Nawar is a high desert plateau in south-east Afghanistan, c.55 km north-west of Ghazni. It is surrounded by the Kohe Baba range which rises above 4,800 m. In the centre of this desert at 3,200 m is Ab-i-Nawar, a shallow, brackish, alkaline lake of c.3,500 ha, being c.14 × 3 km; the lake contains c.40 small islands of 3500 m2. The water comes primarily from snow-melt of the surrounding mountains. The climate is hot and dry in summer and very cold in winter, with only three months of the year having mean minimum temperatures above freezing. The lake bottom supports a dense cover of algae Characeae, but the surrounding mudflats are barren except where they approach the meadows and grasses of the 'Dasht', an upland steppe plateau of meadow grasses and herbs, interspersed with shallow, mostly dry stream beds. The land is state-owned, but semi-nomadic people have grazing rights. In the 1970s some 25 villages supported c.1,200-1,500 people within the area of the Dasht, additionally c.1,300 nomads used the area as summer grazing for c.5,000-7,000 sheep and goats and 700 camels.

Key Biodiversity The site holds the highest known breeding colony of Phoenicopterus ruber (12,000 birds in 1970; 10,000 birds plus 400 young in 1975); with increasing disturbance and consistently low water levels during the 1970s at the flamingo colony at Ab-i-Istada (see site 015), that population seemed to be breeding increasingly at this site. Little other ornithological information is available. Other breeding species include Charadrius leschenaultii, Pterocles orientalis and Rhodopechys mongolica. Together with Ab-i-Istada these wetlands are of extreme importance to migratory waterfowl, the nearest comparable habitat being 600 km away in Seistan. The site was listed as a wetland of international importance by Carp (1980).

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: Canis lupus (V).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus breeding  1970-1975  10,400-12,000 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Afghan Snowfinch Montifringilla theresae resident  1975  3 breeding pairs  poor  A2, A3  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds breeding  1970-1975  20,000 individuals  poor  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Dashte-Nawar Waterfowl Sanctuary 7,500 protected area contained by site 7,500  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Desert   major
Grassland   major
Wetlands (inland)   5%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
rangeland/pastureland major
Notes: Agric/cultiv/Rangeland: Primarily rangeland
nature conservation and research 11%

Acknowledgements A total of 16 IBAs have been identified in Afghanistan. Responsibility for maintenance and update of the IBA information in WBDB is held by BirdLife Secretariat. The baseline survey of IBAs took place during 1991-1993 and was published in Evans (1994). The site accounts and introduction were compiled from information supplied by S. C. Madge, who acknowledges the impressive series of detailed reports compiled principally by Dr R. G. Petocz and Dr J. A. Sayer, team leaders of the National Parks and Wildlife Management Project, which was initiated at the request of the Government of Afghanistan and administered by the Food and Agriculture Organization under the United Nations Development Programme, and which ran from 1972 to 1980, although most ornithological data were collected in the latter years. Waterfowl counts are based mostly on data collected for the International Waterfowl and Wetlands Research Bureau, chiefly by F. J. Koning, during brief winter and early spring visits in 1970–1972. A. Jamil carried out a survey of Ab-i-Istada for this project, with invaluable assistance from A. Fitzherbert and J. Harris (International Crane Foundation). E. Smith supplied valuable information for the site accounts, and Dr K. Habibi reviewed the first draft of the inventory.

References Carp (1980), Petocz and Habibi (1975), Sayer and von der Zon (1981), Shank and Rodenburg (1977).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Dashte Nawar. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016

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