General Overview of Area and History of Assessment
The site is located at the basin of the Lake Sevan located at 1,900 m a.s.l., which is formed by three mountain ridges. The Lake is fed by 28 rivers, its outflow is maintained by River Hrazdan. The site was assessed as IBA in 2000 (Heath et al.2000).
Lake Sevan is represented by 247 species of birds, including 112 breeding and 135 migratory and wintering species. The area remains one of the most important sites for breeding of regional endemic – Armenian Gull. Also the site is hosting globally endangered Ferruginous and Common Pochards, Northern Lapwing, and Turtle Dove. This large waterbody stays open until February, thus providing wintering habitats for flocks of Swans, Ducks, Geese, and other water birds.
The full area of IBA is included in Lake Sevan National park, meaning the 100% State ownership. In the recreation zone the beaches are rented by private companies.
The shore of the Lake is presented by sandy beaches, with various water vegetation, such as reed and cattail, as well as by planted sea-buckthorn bushes, and pine and poplar trees at some parts. The natural habitat that follows the plantations are meadows in majority of the site, and also calcareous grasslands and juniper woodlands on North-eastern part. Rocks and cliffs are alternating the main landscape at the entire area.
About 83% of the area is the open water surface which has no land use other than occasionally used by boat excursions on the Lake. The rest of the area is used as follows: 3% of the area is occupied under recreation; 7% is occupied by five reserves and one sanctuary; and other 8% are given under economic zone.
The Lake already has a dramatic story of conservation, when back in 1930s the government decided to decrease the water level, which is currently lower on 19 meters compared to original. Later in 2000s the government started increase of water level, which resulted in increase of eutrophication.
The water of the Lake continues to be used for agricultural needs, especially at the end of summer, which causes instability of the water level that remains the major threat to the bird community of the Lake, preventing creation of stable shoreline vegetation. Additional threats are emerging from surrounding horticulture fields, which are using fertilizers and pesticides, which in their turn are being washed with the storm water to the Lake resulting to growth of phytoplankton and poisoning of the water. Also some human disturbance in the reserve areas of the IBA and occasional poaching should also be reported.