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Location Iran, Islamic Republic of, Tehran
Central coordinates 52o 10.00' East  34o 45.00' North
IBA criteria A3, B2, B3
Area 686,598 ha
Altitude 700 - 2,015m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Site description The Kavir region lies near the north-west corner of Iran's vast, arid central basin and between the Dasht-i Kavir (Salt Desert) and Daryacheh Namak (Salt Lake). The centre of the Protected Area is c.110 km south-east of Tehran. A chain of low rocky mountains (rising to 2,015 m at Siah-Kuh) runs through the alluvial plains (700-1,000 m) which form the remainder of this region. During prolonged drought virtually the entire area appears to be barren, shrubs and perennial herbs being confined to wadis or other drainage features. However, winter rains and snow may trigger a profuse growth of grasses and flowering plants which carpet much of the area in spring. Open associations of 'tragacanthic' or other Astragalus species, together with some spiny Cousinia and Artemisia (mostly A. herb-alba), are prevalent above 1,500 m. At lower elevations, Artemisia species are the commonest shrubs, while salt-tolerant plants such as Alhagi, Salsola, Haloxylon, Suaeda, Zygophyllum and Seidlitzia dominate in the more saline valley basins. The region is within easy access of Tehran, and is ideally situated for the promotion of eco-tourism. An old caravanserai in the west-central portion of the National Park has been restored as a guest house and visitor centre. Land ownership is public.

Key Biodiversity See box for key species. The reserve supports the characteristic desert avifauna of Iran's central plateau, and is an important breeding area for Chlamydotis undulata. It is also one of the best areas in the country for Pterocles coronatus, with up to 600 gathering to drink at a spring in the centre of the reserve. Other notable breeding species include Buteo rufinus, Falco tinnunculus, Cursorius cursor, Ammomanes cincturus, Hirundo obsoleta, Scotocerca inquieta and Rhodopechys githaginea. Rhodopechys mongolica occurs in large flocks in winter, and Accipiter nisus and Circus cyaneus also winter. Aquila nipalensis is regular on passage, and many passerine night-migrants stop over briefly at the small springs in spring and autumn; other passage migrants include Ciconia ciconia, Circus aeruginosus, Coturnix coturnix and Grus grus. At least 121 species have been recorded in the reserve.

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: Gazella dorcas fuscifrons (V), Ovis ammon (rare), Capra hircus aegagrus (rare), Caracal caracal (rare), Lynx lynx (rare), Canis lupus (V). Equus hemionus (V) was fairly common in the 1970s, and Acinonyx jubatus (V) was occasionally reported, but these both seem to have disappeared.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus resident  1977  frequent  B2  Near Threatened 
Cursorius cursor breeding  1977  7 breeding pairs  good  A3  Not Recognised 
Crowned Sandgrouse Pterocles coronatus resident  1977  200 breeding pairs  good  A3  Least Concern 
Pale Crag-martin Hirundo obsoleta breeding  1977  frequent  A3  Least Concern 
Greater Hoopoe-lark Alaemon alaudipes resident  1977  common  A3  Least Concern 
Bar-tailed Lark Ammomanes cinctura resident  1977  abundant  A3  Least Concern 
Streaked Scrub-warbler Scotocerca inquieta breeding  1977  1-3 breeding pairs  good  A3, B2  Least Concern 
Hooded Wheatear Oenanthe monacha resident  1977  uncommon  A3, B3  Least Concern 
Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes githagineus resident  1977  present  A3  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Kavir National Park 441,486 protected area contained by site 420,000  
Kavir Protected Area 245,112 protected area contained by site 250,000  
Kavir UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve 420,000 protected area contained by site 420,000  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Desert   major
Rocky areas   minor

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research 100%

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

References Firouz (1974), Firouz et al. (1970), Scott (1976b).

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

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