General Overview of Area and History of Assessment
Zangezoor area is located at the eastern macro-slope of Zangezur Mountains and southern slopes of Bargushat Mountains. The elevation of the area is ranged from 1800 to 3990 meters above sea level. The site was evaluated as IBA in 2002.
In total, there are 160 species of birds recorded here, among those, 129 species are breeding and 31 species are migrating through the area or wintering here. Thus obviously this high-mountain area plays more important role as breeding site, rather than migratory point. The species, which inhabit Zangezoor area include globally threatened Egyptian and Bearded Vultures and Caucasian Grouse, and also Nationally protected Caspian Snowcock and Corn Crake, number of threatened Raptors, such as Golden, Short-toed, and Booted Eagles, Peregrine Falcon, Northern Goshawk, and others. The area is known as having one of the highest densities of Caspian Snowcock in Armenia.
Majority of the area in state owned as part of Zangezur Biosphere Complex, and only about 20% of the land belongs to the surrounding communities.
The area contains of two major types of habitat: deciduous forest and grasslands, which also can be conditionally divided into mountain steppes, meadows, and subalpine carpets. The forest is mainly represented by oak and horn-beam, while also hosts other trees, such as willow and mountain ash. The mountain steppes are dominated by grasses and Astracantha species. The meadows are located in mosaic pattern and are represented by mesophilic type of vegetation again represented by Gramineae. Th subalpine carpets include a restricted number of high-mountain plants, including mainly some grasses and legumes.
Although the majority of the area is recognized as protected, however significant portions of it is provided for the local communities for nomadic grazing, hey-making, and bee-hiving. Meanwhile, the other part of the area is strictly protected with no access for grazing. Partly it is conditioned by the fact that the area is used for drinking water acquisition, and therefore it is necessary to restrict an entry of the livestock at such area. From another side, the area is located at the border zone with Nakhichevan, and thus is protected by military guards. There are several small Hydro Power Plants of the mountain rivers of the area.
The major threats can be listed as follows: (1) the main one comes from nomadic grazing as intensification of livestock husbandry might cause overgrazing with all the subsequent issues; (2) another big threat comes for the small Hydro Power Plants, as they withdraw a quite a large portion of the water in the dry season, thus causing an influence on the local humidity and thus they impact the local climate; (3) and eventually the poaching on the Red Listed Cocks and Grouses, as well as large Raptors has the definite negative effect on the bird fauna of the Zangezoor area.
Therefore, it is important to develop a management plan for the area, which would take into consideration the following points: (1) development and adaption of habitat friendly grazing schemes; (2) will reconsider the Hydro Power Plants, and the water withdrawal by those; (3) will focus on development of nature tourism in this area and consider broad scale public advocacy of the surrounding communities.