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Location Iran, Islamic Republic of, East Azarbaijan
Central coordinates 46o 50.00' East  38o 45.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3, B2, B3
Area 73,460 ha
Altitude 700 - 2,770m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Site description The site comprises the Kalibar Mountains, to the south of the Aras river in northern Azarbayjan c.90 km north-east of Tabriz. It extends from the semi-arid steppic foothills at c.1,500 m in the south, over the mountain tops at c.2,500 m, and down into the valley of the Aras river (in the Caspian drainage basin) at c.700 m in the north. The relatively dry, southern slopes are covered with steppic vegetation. The northern slopes are deeply dissected into parallel ridges and steep-sided valleys. Moisture-laden winds from the Caspian support deciduous forest up to c.2,000 m, and lush alpine meadows above the tree-line. There are numerous perennial springs and streams draining north into the Aras river. This rather isolated patch of deciduous forest forms an outlier of the extensive forests of the Caucasus to the north. Summers are generally warm and pleasant, but winters are extremely cold with heavy snow. There are many small villages, but access has remained difficult because of the absence of all-weather roads. The wide range of habitats in the Protected Area includes Artemisia steppe and wheat cultivation on southern slopes, alpine tundra on the rocky summits, alpine meadows above the tree-line, and deciduous forest and scrub dominated by Quercus and Rosa on the northern slopes. Large areas of forest have been cleared for the cultivation of cereals and vegetables and for orchards and pastureland, and much of the remaining forest has been degraded by grazing and cutting of fuelwood. Land ownership is public.

Key Biodiversity See box for key species. This is Iran's only locality for Tetrao mlokosiewiczi, which is restricted to the upper deciduous forest and alpine meadow zones in the south-central part of the reserve at 1,800–2,100 m. This population was discovered in 1971, and was estimated to number 200-300 birds, but there has since been some decline due to forest clearance in the early 1970s. By 1977, the grouse were confined to two areas (Dogorun valley and an area north of Kharil), and the population was thought to be only c.110 birds. The reserve supports a diverse forest and montane avifauna, including a number of species with very restricted breeding ranges in Iran, such as Turdus philomelos, T. merula, Locustella naevia, Acrocephalus palustris, Sylvia curruca, Saxicola rubetra, Parus caeruleus, Pyrrhula pyrrhula, Serinus pusillus and Emberiza hortulana. Phylloscopus trochiloides nitidus is particularly common in the forest. Aquila chrysaetos is resident. At least 104 species have been recorded in the reserve.

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: unusually high densities of Ursus arctos (rare) and Canis lupus (V), as well as populations of Lynx lynx (rare), Ovis ammon (rare) and Capra hircus (rare).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Phasianus colchicus resident  1977  common  B2  Not Recognised 
Caucasian Grouse Lyrurus mlokosiewiczi resident  1977  37-67 breeding pairs  good  A1, A2, A3, B2  Near Threatened 
Caspian Snowcock Tetraogallus caspius resident  1977  4 breeding pairs  good  A3, B3  Least Concern 
Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus resident  1977  1 breeding pairs  good  B2  Near Threatened 
Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus resident  1977  4 breeding pairs  good  B2  Least Concern 
Mountain Chiffchaff Phylloscopus sindianus breeding  1974  7 breeding pairs  good  A2, B3  Least Concern 
Greenish Warbler Phylloscopus trochiloides breeding  1977  abundant  B3  Least Concern 
Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta breeding  1977  abundant  A3  Least Concern 
Rhodopechys sanguineus resident  1977  frequent  A3  Not Recognised 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Arasbaran Protected Area 73,460 is identical to site 73,460  
Arasbaran UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve 72,460 protected area contained by site 72,460  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest   major
Grassland   major
Wetlands (inland)   minor
Rocky areas   minor
Artificial - terrestrial   major
Shrubland   minor

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture major
rangeland/pastureland major
nature conservation and research 100%
forestry major

Acknowledgements Data-sheet compiled by Dr D. A. Scott, reviewed by Dept of Environment.

References Argyle (1977c), Eftekhar (1973c), Gharamani (1971), Mansoori (1974), Scott (1973c, 1976d), Scott and Howell (1976).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Arasbaran Protected Area. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016

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