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Location Iran, Islamic Republic of, Golestan
Central coordinates 55o 45.00' East  37o 25.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A3, B2, B3
Area 132,354 ha
Altitude 380 - 2,410m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Site description Golestan is situated at the eastern end of the Alborz Mountains between the cities of Gonbad-e Qaboos and Bojnurd, and spans the divide from the humid lowlands of the Caspian region to the semi-arid interior of the central plateau. The principal habitats consist of lowland deciduous forest, lowland secondary scrub and meadows, semi-arid steppe, open Juniperus woodland and scrub, upland meadows, springs and streams, and cliffs and crags. Mountains in the south-west third of the reserve from the lowest to the highest elevations (380-2,410 m) are covered with largely pristine climax forest. Dominant trees below 1,800 m include Quercus castanaefolia, Parrotia, Carpinus, Zelkova, Alnus, Fraxinus and Tilia. Higher up, Quercus macranthera, Sorbus, Acer and Juniperus are common. The humid influence of the Caspian dwindles to the east, with forest giving way to scrub and then lush steppe. This montane steppe is characterized by Artemisia, spiny vegetation (predominantly Astragalus, Acantholimon and Cousinia), grass, open stands of Juniperus and copses of Acer. Inter-tribal conflicts which prevailed prior to 1913 virtually precluded any human habitation-even grazing of stock was risky-and for this reason the site was relatively undisturbed. The Asian highway winds north and east through the reserve and provides easy access. Land ownership is public.

Key Biodiversity See box for key species. There is a very diverse breeding bird fauna with virtually all the species characteristic of Caspian forest and upper shrub and Juniperus zones as well as many species characteristic of the upland steppes of north-east Iran. It is one of the few known breeding areas for Tetrax tetrax and Dryocopus martius in Iran, and is especially rich in birds of prey. Notable breeding species not listed below include Hieraaetus pennatus, H. fasciatus, Phasianus colchicus, Melanocorypha bimaculata, Phoenicurus erythronotus, Sylvia hortensis, Phylloscopus trochiloides nitidus, Ficedula semitorquata, F. parva, Lanius isabellinus, Emberiza buchanani and E. bruniceps. At least 151 species have been recorded.

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: the mammal fauna is extremely rich and diverse, including Ovis ammon (rare), Capra hircus aegagrus (rare), Gazella subgutturosa (rare), Lynx lynx (rare), Canis lupus (V) and Ursus arctos (rare). Panthera tigris virgata was last reliably recorded in Iran in this area in about 1963.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus resident  1977  2 breeding pairs  good  A1, B2  Near Threatened 
Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca breeding  1977  1 breeding pairs  good  A3, B2  Vulnerable 
Lesser Spotted Eagle Clanga pomarina breeding  1977  present  B2  Least Concern 
Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus resident  1977  1 breeding pairs  good  B2  Near Threatened 
Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus resident  1977  3 breeding pairs  good  B2  Least Concern 
European Honey-buzzard Pernis apivorus breeding  1977  present  B2  Least Concern 
Little Bustard Tetrax tetrax breeding  1977  4 breeding pairs  good  A3, B2  Near Threatened 
Greenish Warbler Phylloscopus trochiloides breeding  1977  frequent  B3  Least Concern 
Pied Wheatear Oenanthe pleschanka breeding  1977  common  A3  Least Concern 
Red-headed Bunting Emberiza bruniceps breeding  1977  frequent  A3  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Ghorkhod Protected Area 43,778 protected area contained by site 43,778  
Golestan UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve 91,875 protected area contained by site 91,875  
Golestan (Mohammad Reza Shah) National Park 88,576 protected area contained by site 88,576  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest   major
Grassland   major
Shrubland   major
Rocky areas   minor
Wetlands (inland)   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 Ashtiani (1974), Firouz (1974), Firouz et al. (1970), Scott (1972b, 1976b).

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

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