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Location Iran, Islamic Republic of, Khuzestan
Central coordinates 48o 38.00' East  31o 50.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3, A4i, A4iii, B1i, B2, B3
Area 22,834 ha
Altitude 30 - 90m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Site description A 55-km stretch of the Dez river, several associated oxbow lakes, and the adjacent marshy plains of Deh Noh and Ahu Dasht (8,000 ha of wetlands), c.35-90 km north of Ahwaz. The river forms a deep channel with steep earth banks. Dense riparian forest (Tamarix and Populus euphraticus) up to several hundred metres wide lines the river and surrounds the lakes which also have some Phragmites beds. The adjacent plains, largely under wheat and other crops, are dotted with shallow marshy depressions and meandering creeks which flood in winter.

Key Biodiversity See boxes for key species. The wetlands are very important for wintering surface-feeding ducks, geese (including Anser erythropus), Pelecanus crispus and Threskiornis aethiopicus. This stretch of river is the only known haunt of Anhinga rufa in Iran while the reeds around the oxbow lakes form one of the very few sites in Iran where Turdoides altirostris is known. The riverine thickets support a typical Mesopotamian bird fauna, with large breeding populations of Hypocolius ampelinus and Passer moabiticus, but also several species (e.g. Columba palumbus, Turdus merula, Parus major) more typical of Zagros oak forest. Other notable species include Eudromias morinellus, Ceryle rudis, Halcyon smyrnensis and Petronia xanthocollis. At least 133 species have been recorded in the area.

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: a few tens of Dama mesopotamica (E) still survive in the forest along the river; this is the only known truly wild population in the world. Other species include Gazella subgutturosa (rare).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Black Francolin Francolinus francolinus resident  1977  abundant  B2  Least Concern 
Lesser White-fronted Goose Anser erythropus winter  1970-1977  190 individuals  good  A1, A4i, B2  Vulnerable 
Greater White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons winter  1970-1977  420 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos winter  1970-1977  11,000 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris breeding  1977  10-20 breeding pairs  good  A1, A4i, B1i  Vulnerable 
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca winter  1970-1977  11 individuals  good  B1i  Near Threatened 
African Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus winter  1972-1975  23-41 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, B2  Least Concern 
Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus winter  1970-1977  30-162 individuals  good  A1, A4i, B1i, B2  Vulnerable 
African Darter Anhinga rufa winter  1970-1977  3 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, B2  Least Concern 
Grey Hypocolius Hypocolius ampelinus breeding  1977  40 individuals  good  A3, B3  Least Concern 
White-eared Bulbul Pycnonotus leucotis resident  1977  abundant  A3  Least Concern 
Iraq Babbler Turdoides altirostris resident  1977  15 individuals  good  A2, A3, B3  Least Concern 
Dead Sea Sparrow Passer moabiticus resident  1977  100 individuals  good  B3  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  1970-1977  20,000 individuals  good  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Dez Protected Area 17,533 protected area contained by site 10,633  
Dez Wildlife Refuge 5,301 protected area contained by site 5,340  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   major
Forest   minor
Wetlands (inland)   40%
Shrubland   minor

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research 80%
agriculture major
rangeland/pastureland minor
forestry minor

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

References Firouz et al. (1970), Scott (1976a,b,c, 1980), Scott and Carp (1972), Summers et al. (1987).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Dez river marshes and plains. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016

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