General Overview of Area and History of Assessment
Tashir is located at Lori plateau and is represented by combination of grasslands, arable lands, and wetlands, alternated with small forest patches and cut with one smaller canyon. The site was last assessed as IBA in 2013.
In total, there are 250 species of birds recorded in this area, among those, 114 species are breeding and 136 species are migrating through the area or wintering here. Most of the wetlands are frozen in winter and thus the site plays less important role for wintering waterfowl. However the flat geography and large open water surfaces and wetland areas, combined with the grasslands and scrubs become important stopover area for various migratory birds, including not only waterbirds, but also Passerines, Raptors, Cranes, and others. The species of this area include globally threatened Steppe, Greater Spotted, and Imperial Eagles, Egyptian Vulture, Common Pochard, Northern Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit, Turtle Dove, and others. Also the species threatened at the national level, such as Red-necked Grebe, Common Crane, Corn Crake, Peregrine Falcon, Montague’s Harrier, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Black-winged Stilt, and others can be found here. The area one of few known breeding spots for Red-necked Grebe and Common Crane in Armenia.
Entire area is divided between communities except of the lakes and the Metsavan water reservoir, which are the property of the state.
Most of the area is represented by various grasslands and arable lands. Also there is a one large water reservoir and number of small lakes, and quite big areas of other wetlands. The vegetation cover differs in wetlands, which are dominated by Fragmites, Typha, and Carex, and grasslands, which are represented by various Gramineae, as well as Legumes, and other groups. Small patches of deciduous forests are mainly remaining of larger forested areas, while some Pine plantations are providing with additional woodland sites.
The area is a large agricultural site, where the land is mainly used as pastures or hay-making sites, and the arable lands are aimed at growth of grains and some vegetables, such as cabbage and potato. The grasslands and wetlands of this area are allocated for the seasonal hunting.
Flat Tashir area was traditionally used for the large scale agriculture such as horticulture (growing of grains, cabbage and potato), and livestock husbandry. Therefore for the terrestrial habitats the land transformation and overgrazing were the main issues, while for the wetland areas the organic pollution of the lakes from fertilizers and sewage can cause their eutrophication. In addition, it has to be mentioned that quite a big portion of Metsavan reservoir is not included in IBA.
Since there is a public hunting in the land at the background of poor knowledge of the game bird species, it is possible that endangered species might become victims of unintentional poaching. Also poor control over the number of shot birds might cause decline of common species, as Quail and Partridge.
Fortunately, pretty much of the area is already included in the Emerald Network protected under Bern Convention and now it requires development of proper management plan, which can take into consideration the land use, grazing, and seasonal hunting issues. Another important step is re-inventory of the area, which at least should include entire Metsavan reservoir into its borders.