Khosrov State Reserve

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Khosrov State Reserve

Khosrov State Reserve (Armenian: Խոսրովի պետական արգելոց) is a National park located in Armenia.

Background information[edit]

Khosrov State Reserve is also known as the Khosrov Forest,[1] the Khosrov Reserve[2] and the Khosrov Forest State Reserve.[3] The Khosrov State Reserve is one of the oldest protected areas in the world.[4]

The reserve is located in the Ararat Province in south-western Armenia, to the south-east of the capital of Armenia, Yerevan covering the branches of the Geghama Ridge.[5] It is a noted area in the Caucasus region for unique European and Asian flora and fauna;[6] is 29,196 hectares[7] which 9,000 hectares are forested[8] and is located at an altitude of 1600-2300m above sea level.[9] The reserve comprises four districts: Garni to the north; Kakavaberd to the north-east; Khosrov is the centre part and Khachadzor to the east and covers the area of 238.78km2.[10]

History of the reserve[edit]

The reserve has enjoyed a long-term reputation of a forest tract with spectacular scenery and a rich historical legacy which is the closest piece of pristine nature to the capital agglomeration.[11] Wildlife conservation and nature protection began in Armenia many centuries ago.

The reserve was founded by the Roman Client King of Arsacid Armenia Khosrov III Kotak who ruled from 330 until 339, whom the reserve is named after. Khosrov ordered the forest to be a reserve to improve the natural-climatic conditions of the adjacent city of Artashat to ensure conservation and enrichment of flora and fauna. He also ordered plantation of trees on the high slope of the mountains. It also served as a royal ground for hunting, to complete military exercises and entertainment. Later the forest was enriched with hunting animals brought in from other places, especially from Persia.[12] This reserve that Khosrov had founded was the only state forest reserve in the Roman Empire and among the first in that region. Khosrov was the first Christian monarch as a ruler of state to establish a conservation reserve and was the only known monarch as a descendant of the Diadochi, and a distant relation of Greek King Alexander the Great and as a distant paternal relation of the Persian King Darius I[13] to do so.

According to Faustus of Byzantium, there were two fenced forests one called 'Tachar Mayri' (Sacred Forest) and 'Khosrovakert', which both of them were established on both banks of the Azat River. The Tachar Mayri forest started from the Garni Temple and stretched to the city of Dvin. Khosrovakert was established between Artashat and Dvin along the reeds. Over centuries the Khosrovakert disappeared and the remaining Tachar Mayri was later merger with the natural forest.[14] Another Armenian historian Moses of Chorene, mentions in his writings the history of the forest. According to Moses of Chorene, the expression 'Khosrov Forest' is associated with King Khosrov.[15] Also people in Armenia perpetuate the name of King Khosrov not only to the name of the forest but to settlement, river and mountain (Khosrovasar Mountain) of the monarch's name.[16] The Silk Road had passed through the territory of the reserve.[17]

In the era of the Soviet Union the Khosrov Forest was set aside as forestry and on 13 September 1958 the Garni Forestry was granted a status of Khosrov (then Garni) Reserve. The size of the reserve then was 148.61km2.[18] The reserve became a protected area because the high-quality freshwater supplies the Azat River which flows down to Yerevan and the surrendering forests. In 1990 the reserve became 291.96km2 which some adjacent lands were incorporated in it and in 2006–2007, the reserve was reduced to 238.78km2.[19]

The reserve has been official status to the IUCN Ia category. Since 1995, the reserve has been subordinated to the Ministry of Nature of Protection of the Republic of Armenia, managed through its Agency for Biological Resources Management and operating as the Khosrov Reserve non-profit organisation.[20] Between 2006 and 2007, a process was underway to develop and approve a management plan for the reserve which aims to improve the reserve's environmental and socio-economic status which came from a 1993 compliance from the Convention on Biological Diversity.[21]

In the first quarter of 2008, rural schoolchildren in the largest villages adjoining the reserve were involved in an awareness-raising program about the reserve. Among the programs was the campaign on Leopard conservation as the reserve is one of the 'hotspots' for the Persian leopard.[22] On 9 September 2008 the Visitor Centre in the Garni district of the reserve was opened for the visiting public and tourists[23] to educate visitors and bring awareness about the reserve on its natural and human history. On 4 April 2012 the reserve was awarded with a European environmental and conservation diploma from the Council of Europe.[24]

Geology, climate & water[edit]

The reserve's geology is rugged and has a typical mountain range, encompassing a dense network of main and branch ridges, high plateaus and deep canyons towered by volcanic shield massifs and peaks. There are traces of past tectonic activity of various faults and fractures. The rocks, volcanic deposits and igneous intrusions dates back to the Cretaceous and pre-Oligocene periods.[25] The dominating rocks are Quaternary fragmental debris and effusive. Due to the hot weather and impact of water there is an intense aeoline process that has shaped the numerous natural geological figures and most slopes are steep, with declivity exceeding 30o. Middle elevations of the belt are 1500-2300m above sea level covers about half of the reserve's territory representing highly rough terrain composed of fold and detrital ridges. A low elevation of the belt below 1500m is marked by vast areas of badlands.

The climate of the reserve is arid and continental, with cold and snow in the winter and hot weather in the summer and the annual rainfall ranges from 350-450mm in arid foothills to 800mm in alpine meadows.[26] The main rivers in the reserve are Azar and the Vedi. Both rivers with their tributaries, originate in the Geghama Ridge and flow southwestwards.[27] When the rivers are full, they swell in April–May during the snowmelt.[28] The rivers are steep down to 500m, shaping as V-like canyons and when the rivers are fed equally by snow, rainfall and underground water, in summer the water is for used for irrigation.[29] Wetlands, lakes are scarce in the reserve with many freshwater and mineral springs spurting from the underground constant regime.[30]

Landscapes & flora[edit]

The reserve has four landscapes desert/semi-desert, mountain steppes, woodlands and alpine to subalpine meadows. There is much valuable high-altitude habitat (meadow steppe on plateaus and rocky areas) lies within and outside of the reserve.[31] The altitudes for semi-deserts are 900-1250m, 1250-2500m are arid grasslands, sparse forests are 1500-2500m, 1600-2500m for forests and over 2500m for subalpine and alpine meadows.[32] Slope exposure, declivity and climate play an important role in determining the structure of habitats.[33]

True and sparse forests occupy 16 per cent of the reserve, open grasslands 20 per cent of the reserve and rock-dwelling xerophylous communities cover 64 per cent of the reserve.[34] The flora of the reserve numbers 1849 species from 588 genera and 207 families. The rich flora are a mixture of endemic, rare and endangered species.[35] Over 80 flora species found in the reserve are in the Red Data Book of Armenia of 1990 while 24 Armenian endemic plants are found in the reserve.[36]

Plants and trees growing in the semi-desert areas where the soil is clayey and rubbly are dominated by the Wormwood (Artemisia fragrans), Saltwort (Salsola ericoides, S. dendroides), accompanied with Halanthium rarifolium, Eurotia ceratoides and Xeranthemum squarrosum. Halanthium rarifolium and Spring ephemers are the main plants that grow on the gypsum clays.[37] There are widespread communities of Caper (Capparis spinosa) and Thyme (Thymus kotschyanus). Trees that grow on the stony grounds are mainly Buckthorn (Rhamnus pallasii) and Almond (Amygdalus fenzliana).

Capparis spinosa L.
by Otto Wilhelm Thomé

In the arid grasslands, sparse forests and oakeries where are they distributed grow mainly Junipers (Juniperus polycarpos, J. oblonga, J. depressa), Maple (Acer ibericum), Almond and Buckthorn trees. Plants that grow in the subalpine and alpine meadows include common grasses, Phleum protense and Hordeum bulbosum. Plants from the reserve that are included in the Red Data Book of Armenia of 1990 are the Aphanopleura trachysperma, Hohenackeria excapa and Prangos lophoptera.[38] A complete list of endangered flora found at the reserve can be seen here. Endemic Armenian plants found at the reserve include the Allium schchianae, Centaurea arpensis, Cousinia armena, Erucastrum takhtajanii and Campanula bayerniana.[39]

Fauna[edit]

Vertebrate fauna numbers 283 species at the reserve. Invertebrate fauna found at the reserve are over 1500 species including 1427 species of insect, 62 species of molluscs and 3 species of scorpions. The representation of insects at the reserve are from the orders of the: Odonata, Mantoptera, Phasmoptera, Orthoptera, Hemiptera, Coleoptera, Lepidoptera, Diptera and Hymenoptera.[40]

Amphibians

The reserve has 5 species inhabited by amphibians: Eurasian marsh frog (Rana ridibunda), Green toad (Bufo viridis), Long-legged Wood Frog (Rana macrocnemis), Tree Frog (Hyla savignyi) and Syrian spadefoot (Pelobates syriacus).[41]

Fishes

Drawing of a Brook trout from John Treadwell Nichols's Fishes of the Vicinity of New York City (1918) noting that the fish is now uncommon in the New York City area

The reserve is inhabited by 9 species of fish which are the: Brook Trout (Salmo trutta fario), Transcaucasian barb (Capoeta capoeta), Kura barbel (Barbus lacerta cyri), Kura bleak (Alburnus filippi), North Caucasian bleak (Alburnus alburnus hohenackeri), Spirlin (Alburnoides bipunctatus), Golden spined loach (Sabanejewia aurata), Nemacheilus angorae and Barbatula barbatula caucasica.[42]

Reptiles

In the reserve numbers 33 species of reptiles that inhabit landscapes from the semi-deserts to the subalpine meadows.[43] The main lizards found in the reserve are the: Caucasian agama (Laudakia caucasia), Azerbaijani lizard (Darevskia raddei), Nairi lizard (Darevskia nairensis), Snake-eyed lizard (Ophisops elegans), Caucasus emerald lizard (Lacerta strigata) and others,[44] while the Schneider's skink (Eumeces schneideri) is listed in the Red Data Book of Armenia.[45] Another reptile listed in the Red Data Book of Armenia found in the reserve is the Common tortoise (Testudo graeca).[46] Another tortoise found in the reserve is the Armenian tortoise (Testudo graeca armeniaca) which is critically endangered. The main snakes found at the reserve are the Wood snakes (Coluber ravengieri, C. nummifer), Mountain grassland viper (Vipera eriwanensis), Levantine viper (Vipera lebetina) and Armenian viper (Vipera raddei).[47] Snakes listed in the Red Data Book of Armenia found in the reserve is the Golden grass mabuya (Trachylepis septemtaeniata), European cat snake (Telescopus fallax), Black-headed rhynchocalamus (Rhynchocalamus melanocephalus satunini) and Transcaucasian rat snake (Elaphe hohenackeri).[48]

Birds

Birdlife in the reserve accounts for 56 per cent of the avifauna in Armenia.[49] There are 192 bird species found in reserve from 44 families. From them 63 species are residing, 83 nesting, 83 occurring from migrations, 11 wintering, 10 vagrants and 5 casual.[50]

Among the birds of prey found at the reserve are the Bearded vulture or lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus), Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), Eurasian griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus), Peregrine (Falco peregrinus), Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus) and others. Other birds found at the reserve include: Caspian Snowcock (Tetraogallus caspius), Chukar Partridge (Alectoris chukar), Grey Partridge (Perdix perdix) and the Common Quail (Coturnix coturnix). Birds living in the semi-desert foothills are the European Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus), European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster) and Passerines are widespread.[51]

Immature (behind) and adult (from John Gould's Birds of Europe), Egyptian Vulture

The following birds from the reserve are listed in the 2008 IUCN Red List: the Eurasian black vulture (Aegypius monachus), Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus), Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni), European Roller (Coracias garrulus) and the Semi-collared Flycatcher (Ficedula semitorquata).[52] Another 37 birds are listed in the Red Data Book of Armenia, but 16 more needs to be added which are rare that have limited distribution of their numbers are declining.[53] Nest sites for the Mongolian Finch (Bucanetes mongolicus), Tengmalm's owl (Aegolius funereus) and Eurasian black vulture are only located in the reserve. The reserve contains the largest colony of the Eurasian griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus) and one of the two nesting sites for the Red-tailed Wheatear (Oenanthe chrysopygia) in Armenia.[54]

Mammals

According to earlier animal revision numbers from the 1950s to 1980s, mammal species are at 41.[55] There is a rich variety of mammals that lived inside, around and outside near the reserve. A full list of the fauna can be seen here. The main mammals living in the reserve are the: Wild boar (Sus scrofa), Gray wolf (Canis lupus), Brown bear (Ursus arctos), Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), Red fox (Vulpes vulpes), Badger (Meles meles), Iranian red sheep (Ovis ammon gmelini), European Hare (Lepus europaeus), Least weasel (Mustela nivalis), Stone marten (Martes foina) and recently the first recorded sightings of the Indian Crested Porcupine were documented.[56] The Ussurian Spotted Deer was introduced into the reserve in 1594 and has acclimatised well there.[57]

Rare and endangered animals that are found in the reserve are the Persian leopard (Panthera pardus ciscaucasica = P.p. saxicolor), Bezoar Ibex (Capra aegagrus), Marbled polecat (Vormela peregusna peregusna), Syrian brown bear (Ursus arctos syriacus), Asian barbastelle (Barbastella leucomelas) and European Wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris).[58]

Antiquities & Other Sites[edit]

There are various ancient, natural monuments and other natural reserves located in and in the neighbourhood of the reserve for tourists and visitors to see and they are worth seeing. Among them include the: Aghjots Vank, Kakavaberd, Havuts Tar, Azhdahak, Garni Gorge, Mashtots Hayrapet Church of Garni, Garni and the Garni Temple. For more information about the sites can be seen here and here.

Pressures on the Reserve[edit]

The landscape in the reserve has had its fair share of pressures from human development and interference since the 4th century. Originally the main threats to the reserve were hunting of animals and clearing of the trees. Prior to 2007 Dutch disease, had significantly damaged the Juniper trees and other dry climate trees in the reserve. Juniper is a very valuable tree as its Resin is used in aviation equipment, its wood is used in Furniture making and has Bactericide properties.[59] Illegally logging and Poaching had occurred in the late 1980s to the early 1990s which saw the number of animals had halved in the those years.[60] In recent years the conditions for the fauna have improved and the wildlife number's had increased favourably due to climate conditions and proper budget conservation measures.[61]

At present several villages are located inside the reserve and many rural communities near the reserve. In 1985 a number of agricultural lands were taken from their owners to be incorporated into the reserve and land grants were compensated elsewhere.[62] Now 40 households use 20 hectares of ranges inside the reserve and to an extent overlap between the reserve and land-use boundaries allows locals to violate the legal protection of the reserve. An example of this, is the Gorovan Sands Sanctuary which near the reserve is known to be Armenia's only protected true desert reserve has been exploited from sand mining and livestock grazing.[63]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Keeping Khosrov: Nature preserve maintains small part of Armenia nature–fravahr.org, 27 October 2007
  2. ^ Khosrov Forest State Reserve: Park Info
  3. ^ Discover Armenia, Khosrov Forest State Reserve
  4. ^ Council of Europe: Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, Group of Specialists-European Diploma of Protected Areas. Application presented by the Ministry of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia: Khosrov Forest State Reserve, 21 November 2011, page 4
  5. ^ Khosrov Forest State Reserve: Park Info
  6. ^ “Khosrov“ state reserve is awarded with the European diploma, 4 April 2012
  7. ^ BirdLife International – Khosrov Reserve
  8. ^ Ginosi.com – Khosrov Forest State Preserve
  9. ^ Find Armenia: Khosrov forest (Khosrov reserve) Ararat
  10. ^ Discover Armenia, Khosrov Forest State Reserve
  11. ^ Khosrov Forest State Reserve: Park Info
  12. ^ Council of Europe: Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, Group of Specialists-European Diploma of Protected Areas. Application presented by the Ministry of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia: Khosrov Forest State Reserve, 21 November 2011, page 4
  13. ^ Ptolemaic Genealogy: Affiliated Lines – Descendant Lines, Lineage of Khosrov
  14. ^ Council of Europe: Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, Group of Specialists-European Diploma of Protected Areas. Application presented by the Ministry of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia: Khosrov Forest State Reserve, 21 November 2011, page 4
  15. ^ Council of Europe: Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, Group of Specialists-European Diploma of Protected Areas. Application presented by the Ministry of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia: Khosrov Forest State Reserve, 21 November 2011, page 5
  16. ^ Council of Europe: Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, Group of Specialists-European Diploma of Protected Areas. Application presented by the Ministry of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia: Khosrov Forest State Reserve, 21 November 2011, page 4
  17. ^ Council of Europe: Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, Group of Specialists-European Diploma of Protected Areas. Application presented by the Ministry of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia: Khosrov Forest State Reserve, 21 November 2011, page 4
  18. ^ Khosrov Forest State Reserve: Park Info
  19. ^ Khosrov Forest State Reserve: Park Info
  20. ^ Khosrov Forest State Reserve: Park Info
  21. ^ Khosrov Forest State Reserve: Park Info
  22. ^ Khosrov Forest State Reserve: Projects
  23. ^ Khosrov Forest State Reserve: News
  24. ^ “Khosrov“ state reserve is awarded with the European diploma, 4 April 2012
  25. ^ Khosrov Forest State Reserve: Geology
  26. ^ Discover Armenia, Khosrov Forest State Reserve
  27. ^ Discover Armenia, Khosrov Forest State Reserve
  28. ^ Discover Armenia, Khosrov Forest State Reserve
  29. ^ Khosrov Forest State Reserve: Climate and Water
  30. ^ Khosrov Forest State Reserve: Climate and Water
  31. ^ Important Bird Areas factsheet: Khosrov Reserve. BirdLife International (2013). Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/07/2013
  32. ^ Discover Armenia, Khosrov Forest State Reserve
  33. ^ Khosrov Forest State Reserve: Habitats
  34. ^ Discover Armenia, Khosrov Forest State Reserve
  35. ^ Khosrov Forest State Reserve: Habitats
  36. ^ Discover Armenia, Khosrov Forest State Reserve
  37. ^ Khosrov Forest State Reserve: Common Species of Flora
  38. ^ Discover Armenia, Khosrov Forest State Reserve
  39. ^ Discover Armenia, Khosrov Forest State Reserve
  40. ^ Khosrov Forest State Reserve: Fauna
  41. ^ Khosrov Forest State Reserve: Fauna
  42. ^ Khosrov Forest State Reserve: Fauna
  43. ^ Discover Armenia, Khosrov Forest State Reserve
  44. ^ Khosrov Forest State Reserve: Fauna
  45. ^ Discover Armenia, Khosrov Forest State Reserve
  46. ^ Khosrov Forest State Reserve: Rare & Endangered Species
  47. ^ Khosrov Forest State Reserve: Fauna
  48. ^ Khosrov Forest State Reserve: Rare & Endangered Species
  49. ^ Discover Armenia, Khosrov Forest State Reserve
  50. ^ Discover Armenia, Khosrov Forest State Reserve
  51. ^ Khosrov Forest State Reserve: Fauna
  52. ^ Discover Armenia, Khosrov Forest State Reserve
  53. ^ Discover Armenia, Khosrov Forest State Reserve
  54. ^ Discover Armenia, Khosrov Forest State Reserve
  55. ^ Khosrov Forest State Reserve: Fauna
  56. ^ Khosrov Forest State Reserve: Fauna
  57. ^ Find Armenia Khosrov forest (Khosrov reserve) Ararat
  58. ^ Khosrov Forest State Reserve: Rare & Endangered Species
  59. ^ Keeping Khosrov: Nature preserve maintains small part of Armenia nature–fravahr.org, 27 October 2007
  60. ^ Keeping Khosrov: Nature preserve maintains small part of Armenia nature–fravahr.org, 27 October 2007
  61. ^ Keeping Khosrov: Nature preserve maintains small part of Armenia nature–fravahr.org, 27 October 2007
  62. ^ Khosrov Forest State Reserve: Habitats
  63. ^ Khosrov Forest State Reserve: Habitats

Sources[edit]

Gallery[edit]

External links[edit]