The Annotated Ramsar List: Islamic Republic of Iran

04/03/2011

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The Annotated Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance

IRAN (ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF) / IRAN (REPUBLIQUE ISLAMIQUE D’) / IRAN (REPUBLICA ISLAMICA DEL)

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The Convention on Wetlands came into force for the Islamic Republic of Iran on 21 December 1975. The Islamic Republic of Iran presently has 24 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance, with a surface area of 1,486,438 hectares.

site; date of designation; region, province, state; surface area; coordinates
site; date de désignation; région, province, état; superficie; coordonnées
sitios; fecha de designación; región, provincia, estado; área; coordenadas

Alagol, Ulmagol & Ajigol Lakes. 23/06/75; Mazandaran; 1,400 ha; 37º21’N 054º35’E. Added to the Montreux Record, 16 June 1993; removed from the Record, 17 July 2009. Ulmagol and Ajigol are seasonally-filled freshwater lakes, fed by autumn and winter rains, which become desiccated in drought periods. Alagol is slightly saline and fringed by extensive reed and grass marshes. Ulmagol is sparsely vegetated. There are several human settlements. The site supports Anatidae (ducks, geese, swans, etc.), flamingos, and nesting White-tailed Plover. Placed on the Montreux Record in 1993 due to high levels of disturbance from wildfowl hunters and the extraction of water for irrigation purposes, which has lowered lake levels considerably, especially during summer. Ramsar site no. 49. Most recent RIS information: 1997.

Amirkelayeh Lake.23/06/75; Gilan; 1,230 ha; 37º17’N 050º12’E. Wildlife Refuge. A deep, freshwater lake supporting extensive reedbeds and a rich floating and submerged vegetation. The lake is fed by springs and run-off, and at times of high water level drains into the Caspian Sea. The area is important for several species of wintering waterbirds, mostly Anatidae (ducks, geese, swans, etc.). Past human activities have included intensive duck hunting, which is now banned. Ramsar site no. 47. Most recent RIS information: 1997.

Anzali Mordab (Talab) complex. 23/06/75; Gilan; 15,000 ha; 37º25’N 049º28’E. Added to the Montreux Record, 16 June 1993. A large, freshwater lagoon fed by several rivers and separated from the sea by a dune system; supports extensive reedbeds and abundant submerged and floating vegetation. The permanent wetland is surrounded by seasonally flooded marshes and ab-bandans (water impoundments) fringed by reedbeds and damp grassland. The site is of international importance for breeding, staging and wintering waterbirds. The massive spread of the exotic floating water fern Azola is suppressing native flora which is important food for waterbirds. This site was placed on the Montreux Record in 1993 due to change in water levels and increased nutrient-enrichment, leading to the rapid spread of the reed Phragmites australis. Ramsar site no. 40. Most recent RIS information: 1997.

Bujagh National Park. 23/06/75; Gilan; 3,177 ha; 37º27’N 049º55’E. National Park. A broad, shallow embayment of the Caspian Sea and associated deltaic wetlands at the mouth of the Sefid Rud River. With a variety of marine, coastal and inland freshwater and brackish wetland types, the site is important as a spawning and nursery ground for fish, and as breeding, staging and wintering area for waterfowl, including Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus. It supports more than 1% of the Caspian populations of Greater White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons and Whooper Swan Cygnus Cygnus. The site also supports the globally Endangered Caspian Seal Pusa caspica. Bujagh National Park is floristically diverse and has 24 endemic species together with many traditionally-used medicinal plant species.  The site is used for recreational and commercial fishing including aquaculture, livestock grazing, reed-cutting, hunting, rice farming and recreation/tourism. It is impacted by waterfowl hunting, transport pressure from commercial fisheries, recreation, uncontrolled summer grazing and illegal fishing; a decrease in wintering waterfowl has been attributed to fishing and hunting disturbance. A management plan is under development. Bujagh National Park is an Important Bird Area and is considered a potential site for the reintroduction of the Siberian Crane. The original Ramsar site (1975) was significantly enlarged as of 17 September 2009. Ramsar site no. 46. Most recent RIS information: 2009.

Choghakhor Wetland. 03/03/2010; Chahar Mahal and Bakhtiari Province; 1,687 ha; 31º55’N 050º54’E. Designated a no hunting area. Choghakhor Wetland supports more than 47 bird species, with breeding populations of migratory birds such as the Northern Pintail (Anas acuta). It supports more than 1% of the population of Gadwall (Anas strepera) and harbours threatened species such as the endangered White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala) and the vulnerable Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca). Choghakhor Wetland is considered to be one of the most important sites in Iran for the endemic Zagros pupfish (Aphanius vladykovi). It is important for flood control, ground water replenishment, and is generally considered a reservoir for biodiversity. Plants with important medicinal properties (e.g Achillea millefolium) can be harvested, and locals engage in livelihood activities such as fishing and agriculture. Threats to the site include the collection of bird eggs and poaching. Dam construction in 1991 has caused increasing water levels in the wetland which in turn, has affected the availability of bird habitats. The Department of Environment is responsible for the management of this site. Ramsar Site 1939. Most recent RIS information: 2010.

Deltas of Rud-e-Gaz & Rud-e-Hara. 23/06/75; Bandar-e Abbas; 15,000 ha; 26º40’N 057º20’E. An extensive complex of tidal mudflats, creeks, saltmarshes, mangroves, sandbanks and offshore islands at the mouth of two rivers. A remote area with sparse human population and an extremely arid, low-lying hinterland. The site is important for wintering waterbirds. Ramsar site no. 52. Most recent RIS information: 1997.

Deltas of Rud-e-Shur, Rud-e-Shirin & Rud-e-Mindab.23/06/75; Bandar-e Abbas; 45,000 ha; 27º05’N 056º45’E. Coastal mudflats, mangroves and saltmarshes around the deltas of three rivers, subject to spring flooding. A shallow, inshore zone includes mud and sand flats, bars and spits. Arid plains and steppe occur inland. The area is important for wintering waterbirds. There are a few human settlements near the wetlands. Ramsar site no. 51. Most recent RIS information: 1997.

Fereydoon Kenar, Ezbaran & Sorkh Ruds Ab-Bandans. 28/03/03; Mazandaran; 5,427 ha; 36°40'N, 52°33'E. Non-Shooting Area, BirdLife IBA; includes Wildlife Refuge. An artificially maintained wetland in the South Caspian lowlands. Comprises four "damgahs", i.e. shallow freshwater impoundments based on rice paddies developed as duck-trapping areas, surrounded by forest strips and reedbeds, and including a Wildlife Refuge (48ha). The area is of outstanding importance as wintering grounds for the entire western population of the Siberian Crane (Grus leucogeranus), listed as 'critically endangered' in the IUCN Red Book. Having reappeared at the site in 1978 after 60 years' absence, the number of Siberian Cranes now fluctuates between 7-14. Other endangered species using the site include Red-breasted GooseBranta ruficollis, Lesser White-fronted Goose Anser erythropus, Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus and occasionally Pygmy Cormorant Phalacrocorax pygmaeus, and wintering raptors such as Falco sp. and Haliaeetus albicilla. The site's agricultural lands are flooded during summer, thus supporting groundwater recharge and water supply for irrigation during the dry months. Apart from rice farming the land is used for forestry and fishery. An important traditional activity is duck trapping, originally a main source of income during the winter months but now done primarily for sport. ("During the trapping procedure, domestic ducks are thrown into the air in the direction of the pond. The heavy, poorly-flying ducks land noisily in the pond. The sight and sound of these flying and feeding ducks arouse the curiosity of wild ducks in the main flooded field. They swim up the narrow channel to the pond where they are netted by trappers. Because of the height of the brush surrounding the pond and the narrowness of the channel, the wild ducks are unable to take flight and quickly trapped.") In the past at the end of each trapping season the area was opened up for gun hunting in a massive "shoot-out", creating a potential threat for Siberian Cranes to be shot accidentally, but in 2001 the Department of Environment designated the whole site as a Non-Shooting Area. Conservation measures include annual mid-winter waterfowl censuses and an MoU on Siberian Cranes with 9 'range states' of the Convention on Migratory Species. A GEF project, implemented through UNEP and coordinated by the International Crane Foundation and CMS, aims to conserve the critical sites used by Siberian Cranes for breeding, staging during migration, and the main wintering grounds. Ramsar site no. 1308. Most recent RIS information: 2003.

Gavkhouni Lake & marshes of the lower Zaindeh Rud.23/06/75; Isfahan; 43,000 ha; 32º20’N 052º47’E. Gavkhouni is a brackish lake with limited reed vegetation, and both it and the marshes of the lower Zaindeh Rud River are subject to wide seasonal flood fluctuations. Much of the original marshland has been converted to agricultural use to take advantage of the rich alluvial soil. The site is important for staging and wintering for several species of migratory waterbirds. The site is impressive in its desert situation. Ramsar site no. 53. Most recent RIS information: 1997.

Gomishan Lagoon. 05/11/01; Golestan; 17,700 ha; 37°11’N 053°57’E. A coastal lagoon at the extreme southeast of the Caspian Sea, at the edge of the Turkmen steppe, separated from the sea by a narrow sandy barrier which is frequently overrun by the sea. The site supports three IUCN Red List vulnerable species of waterbirds, i.e., Pelecanus crispus, Aythya nyroca, and Vanellus gregarious, as well as the vulnerable mammal Phoca (Pusa) caspica; it is also an important staging area for the fish subspecies Rutilus rutilus caspicas. More than 20,000 waterbirds have been observed in the most recent 13 years of censuses, and more than 20 species of waterbirds surpass the 1% threshold (Criteria 5 and 6), and 15 fish species depend upon the site as an important source of food (Criterion 8). The government-owned area provides for fishing and hunting, and some livestock grazing, for some 40,000 inhabitants of the region, in parts of the site and its catchment. Caspian sea-level fluctuations have had some adverse effects. A Ramsar SGF-funded study has provided vital management information on species populations. Subject of Ramsar Advisory Missions in 1992 and 1997. Ramsar site 1109. Most recent RIS information: 2001.

Govater Bay and Hur-e-Bahu. 01/11/99; Baluchestan; 75,000 ha; 25º10’N 061º30’E. The riverine and estuarine wetlands of the lower Sarbaz River, including permanent freshwater pools and marshes, mangrove swamps and intertidal mudflats, and also the sandy beach of the adjacent Gulf of Oman coast in the extreme southeast of Iran (Persian Baluchestan) to the border with Pakistan. The site supports the westernmost population of South Asian species Marsh crocodile Crocodylus palustris, and is also important for wintering waterfowl, notably Pelecanus crispus, shorebirds, gulls and terns. The site is also a BirdLife International "Important Bird Area". Ramsar site no. 1006. Most recent RIS information: 1999.

Hamun-e-Puzak, south end. 23/06/75; Sistan & Baluchestan; 10,000 ha; 31º20’N 061º45’E. Added to the MontreuxRecord, 4 July 1990. The Iranian portion of the vast Hamun-e-Puzak wetland, the majority of which lies in Afghanistan, consists of a complex of shallow freshwater lakes with rich submergent vegetation and extensive reedbeds. An important area for wintering waterbirds. Substantial declines in bird numbers may have occurred due to widespread drought and vegetation degradation in the Sistan Basin. Human activities include livestock grazing and agricultural irrigation. Placed on the Montreux Record in 1990 because of the possibility that water inflow could be reduced by the construction of a dam on the Helmand River in Afghanistan. Subject of a Ramsar Advisory Mission in 1992. Ramsar site no. 44. Most recent RIS information: 1997.

Hamun-e-Saberi & Hamun-e-Helmand. 23/06/75; Sistan & Baluchestan; 50,000 ha; 31º20’N 061º20’E. Added to the Montreux Record, 4 July 1990. Protected Area. Bordering Afghanistan and forming a single wetland complex with Hamun-e-Puzak, it is located in a closed drainage basin and consists of two shallow, predominantly freshwater lakes and associated wetlands. The area is important for wintering waterbirds. Bird populations may have declined due to drought and river control structures (dams). There is increasing pressure from urbanization and agricultural irrigation. Listed on the Montreux Record in 1990 because wetland water levels were critically affected by drought problems due to dam construction and water diversion schemes on the Helmand River in Afghanistan. Subject of a Ramsar Advisory Mission in 1992. Ramsar site no. 42. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Kanibarazan Wetland. 17/01/2011; West Azarbaijan Province; 927 ha; 36°59'N 045°46'E. Located in the northwest region of the country, consisting of a freshwater lake surrounded by diverse plant communities. The site is located to the south of Lake Urmia and is surrounded by seasonal wetlands which become dry during summer and autumn. The wetland is one of the most important habitats for waterbirds in the region, supporting more than 20,000 birds with more than 100 bird species recorded at this site, including a number of important species such as the endangered White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala). The site provides critical staging/feeding and breeding habitat for waterbirds all year around. In addition, the Cyprinid fish, Acanthalburnus urmianus which is endemic to the I.R. Iran, is also found here. Kanibarazan Wetland was initially a seasonal wetland, originally fed by water from surrounding springs and run off from agricultural land. Drainage canals now supply water to the site throughout the year, making it a permanent wetland. In future, if water is diverted from the site, this would affect plant and animal communities which have become established here. This site is important for water purification and water storage; it also prevents salt water from intruding into upstream areas. Locals use the area for harvesting straw, fish, and for livestock grazing. Ramsar Site no.1940. Most recent RIS information: 2011.

Khuran Straits. 23/06/75; Bandar-e Abbas; 100,000 ha; 26º45’N 055º40’E. Biosphere Reserve; Protected Area. Located in the lower Mehrãn River delta, with extensive intertidal silt flats, saltmarshes, mangrove forests, and numerous estuarine creeks and islands. Shallow saline waters support growths of red and brown algae, while the intertidal mangroves provide habitat for crustaceans - an important food source for waterbirds. Particularly valuable for large nesting colonies of Ardeidae (herons, bitterns, etc.) as well as passage and wintering waterbirds, including the endangered Dalmatian Pelican. Ramsar site no. 50. Most recent RIS information: 1997.

Lake Gori. 23/06/75; Azarbayjan-e Sharqi; 120 ha; 37º55’N 046º42’E. A freshwater lake fringed by extensive reedbeds of various species, and lying in a closed, high altitude basin. The lake is fed by rainfall, runoff, springs and small streams, with inflow from spring snow-melt being the greatest contributor. The surrounding area is semi-arid steppe and includes a small settlement and associated cultivation. Breeding waterbirds include Black-necked Grebe, White-headed Duck and other Anatidae (ducks, geese, swans, etc.). Ramsar site no. 48. Most recent RIS information: 1997.

Lake Kobi.23/06/75; Azarbayjan-e Gharbi; 1,200 ha; 36º57’N 045º30’E. A freshwater lake with associated areas of seasonally flooded marshland, lying in a closed, high altitude basin and fed by rainfall and runoff. Supports abundant aquatic vegetation, including reedbeds and grassland. The lake is important for breeding, staging and wintering waterbirds; and supports several nesting species. The wetland is surrounded by rolling steppe hills, with scattered human settlements and cultivation. Ramsar site no. 43. Most recent RIS information: 1997.

Lake Parishan & Dasht-e-Arjan. 23/06/75; Fars; 6,200 ha; 29º30’N 052º00’E. Biosphere Reserve; Protected Area. Two widely separated wetlands located at high altitude in a closed drainage basin. Both are permanent freshwater lakes subject to seasonal fluctuations in level, fed by springs and seasonal streams. Parishan is subject to fluctuating salinity depending on precipitation. Both lakes are fringed by marshes dominated by reeds, and are important staging and wintering areas for numerous species of migratory waterbirds. The area also supports a variety of nesting waterbirds including pelicans, Ardeidae (herons, bitterns, etc.), and ibises. Ramsar site no. 37. Most recent RIS information: 1997.

Lake Urmia [or Orumiyeh]. 23/06/75; Azarbayjan-e Gharbi; 483,000 ha; 37º30’N 045º30’E. Biosphere Reserve; National Park. A vast hypersaline lake with many islands, surrounded by extensive brackish marshes. The lake is fed by rainfall, springs and streams and subject to seasonal variation in level and salinity. The brackish marshes support reeds and large breeding colonies of various waterbirds with large numbers of flamingos (40,000-80,000 pairs), and are an important staging area for migratory waterbirds. A number of human settlements are scattered around the lake shore. Ramsar site no. 38. Most recent RIS information: 1997.

Miankaleh Peninsula, Gorgan Bay & Lapoo-Zaghmarz Ab-bandan.23/06/75; Mazandaran; 100,000 ha; 36º50’N 053º17’E. Biosphere Reserve; Wildlife Refuge. A brackish bay almost completely cut off from the sea, which supports freshwater marshes and seasonally flooded woodland, and a freshwater lagoon supporting extensive reedbeds. An extremely important for area for breeding, and passage, nesting and wintering waterbirds including pelicans, cormorants, egrets, flamingos and geese. Rising sea levels have permanently inundated former flats and marshes, reducing bird habitat. Principal crops in the surrounding area are cotton and wheat. Subject of a Ramsar Advisory Mission in 1997. Ramsar site no. 36. Most recent RIS information: 1997.

Neyriz Lakes & Kamjan Marshes. 23/06/75; Fars; 108,000 ha; 29º40’N 053º30’E. Added to the Montreux Record, 4 July 1990. Wildlife Refuge. Two very large saline lakes in a closed, high altitude drainage basin; contiguous during very wet winters but may become completely dry in exceptionally dry years. The site embraces the extensive, permanent freshwater Kamjan marshes and supports a wide variety of breeding, staging and wintering waterbirds. Up to 50,000 flamingos may occur in winter, whilst other species include Anatidae (ducks, geese, swans, etc.) and cranes. The surrounding areas are arid steppe hills and plains, with some cultivated land in the valley. Drainage of the wetland for rice cultivation over the past few decades has greatly reduced the wetland size, resulting in its inclusion in the Montreux Record in 1990. Ramsar site no. 39. Most recent RIS information: 1997.

Shadegan Marshes & mudflats of Khor-al Amaya & Khor Musa. 23/06/75; Khuzestan; 400,000 ha; 30º30’N 048º45’E. Added to the Montreux Record, 16 June 1993. Wildlife Refuge. An extensive delta on the border with Iraq, forming part of the largest lowland in Iran, and composed of the floodplains of major rivers draining 11.5 million hectares. The site includes fresh and brackish sedge marshes, tidal flats, creeks, sandbanks and a low island. The delta is fed by overflow channels of the Karun river, irrigation canals and local rainfall. The area is important for breeding and wintering waterbirds and is possibly the most important wintering site in the world for Marbled Teal. The wetland is bordered by saltflats, rice fields, date palms and human settlements. The site was placed on the Montreux Record in 1993 because of chemical pollution from the Iran-Iraq war. Ramsar site no. 41. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Sheedvar Island.29/12/99; Hormozgan Province; 870 ha; 26°48’N, 053°24’E. Protected Area, Wildlife Refuge; Important Bird Area (BirdLife International). A small sandy and rocky offshore island surrounded by excellent coral reefs in the north central Persian Gulf, extremely important for breeding marine turtles (Chelonidae) and some species of waterbirds, including a breeding colony of terns (Sterna spp) and other waterbirds in internationally important numbers. The flat area within sparsely-vegetated sand dunes is densely clad with halophytic shrubs (Atriplex sp) up to 60cm high. Abundance of a small poisonous snake has led to the island’s alternative name "Maru" (Snake Island). There are no springs or surface water on the island and rainfall is very low, and the island is uninhabited by humans and owned by the government. Uncontrolled egg collection by humans was a serious problem in the 1970s but has diminished to manageable proportions. Department of the Environment personnel have been stationed on the island during the breeding season. Ramsar site no. 1015. Most recent RIS information: 1999.

Shurgol, Yadegarlu & Dorgeh Sangi Lakes. 23/06/75; Azarbayjan-e Gharbi; 2,500 ha; 37º00’N 045º30’E. Added to the Montreux Record, 4 July 1990. Three physically separate units, each including a lake and associated seasonally flooded marshland. All are fed by a combination of rainfall, runoff, seepage, springs and small streams. Shurgol is brackish to saline and adjoining marshes usually flood seasonally. Yadegarlu is a smaller, freshwater lake, with abundant submerged flora and sedge marshes. Dorgeh Sangi is shallow and fluctuates greatly according to seasonal rainfall. The area is important for the breeding and passage of waterbirds; nesting species include Marbled Teal. The site was placed on the Montreux Record in 1990 due to over-grazing of lakeshore vegetation by domestic livestock, over-grazing of the aquatic vegetation, excessive wildfowl hunting, and the effects of the war and drought at Yadegarlu. Ramsar site no. 45. Most recent RIS information: 1997.

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