Armenia’s third Ramsar Site
The Secretariat is pleased to announce that Armenia has designated its third Wetland of International Importance, Khor Virap Marsh (50 hectares, 39°53'16''N 044°34'18''E), a State Sanctuary located in the ancient Arax riverbed in the central part of the country, close to the capital city of Yerevan and within sight of Mt Ararat. As summarized by Ramsar Assistant Advisor Kati Wenzel, this freshwater marsh of semi-artificial origin consists mainly of reed beds fed by an irrigation canal and surrounded by drainage channels.
The site is important for over 100 species of migratory waterbirds of which 30 species are breeding here, including globally threatened Marbled Teal (Marmaronetta angustirostris) and endangered White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala) as well as nationally threatened species such as Pygmy Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmaeus) and Gadwall (Anas strepera). The site also supports a number of mammal species such as Jungle Cat (Felis chaus), European otter (Lutra lutra), and the only non-native wild mammal Coypu (Myocastor coypus). Large numbers of dragonfly species occur, including nationally endangered Hemianax ephippiger.
The marsh plays a significant role in flood mitigation downstream and in sediment trapping. It is used for hunting, fishing, reed harvesting and to a lesser extent for cattle grazing. The area surrounding the site is of social and cultural value, especially the Khor Virap Monastery, which was built on the site of the ruins of the ancient capital Artashat. The site itself is threatened by a decrease in water level due to unsustainable use of water for irrigation, overgrazing, fires during the winter period, and poaching. A management plan does not currently exist but is planned.
Armenia presently has 3 Ramsar Sites covering 493,511 hectares. The Convention's 160 Parties have designated 1,967 wetlands covering 190,728,075 hectares.
Photos by Mr Karen Jenderedjian.
After a fire