Munzur Mountains This is an IBA in danger! 

Year of compilation: 2016

Site description
The Munzur Mountain consists of limestone and volcanic rocks. It includes the highest points of the Eastern Anatolian Region. It has 10 different peaks that reach 3000 meters. The altitude increases dramatically to the east and north at the southwestern end of the area. Steep rocky cliffs, which do not give passage except for the valleys established by the watercourses, continue to the peaks of the area. It is an area which has been protected from human pressure and it includes moren and glacier lakes at high altitudes (Eken et al. 2006).

The Munzur (Mercan) Dağları (Mountains) comprises an extensive mountain block rising to 3462 m., composed (argely of limestone and igneous rocks that extends for over 130 km. and is partly enrircled by the upper reaches of the Fırat Nehri. The bulk of the vegetation is composed of forest (including important, albeit relict, stands of Pinus sylvestris and natural Juglans regia), steppe and montane rock communities. Over 1500 taxa have been recorded, including 228 Turkish endemics, making this mountain block one of the richest not only in Turkey, but in Europe as a whole. The flora includes 143 nationally rare taxa, including an astonishing 45 speries apparently confined to this single site. One speries listed on Appendix I of the Bern Convention is present, namely Typha shuttlemrthii.
Part of the area lies within the Munzur Vadisi National Park and Permanent Wildlife Reserve, but the bulk receives no formal protection. Excessive levels of stock grazing and a continuing programme to construct dam lakes pose the most serious threats to this extensive site: It is thought that no fewer than eight taxa restricted to this single site have become extinct as a result of these activities (Byfield et al. 2010).

The KBA covers the south of Erzincan province and the north of Tunceli province together with the mountain range extending till the border of Bingöl province. Due to the rough landscape, transportation to the area is limited. The connection of Erzincan province to Southern provinces is provided by roads passing through the valleys which the Karasu Stream, one of the arms of the Euphrates River, has established to the west of the Pülümür Stream, which is to the east (Eken et al. 2006).

The Munzur (Mercan) Dağları (Mountains) IPA comprises the vast mountain block, extending for approximately 130 km., and bounded to the west and north by the Karasu (the upper reaches of the Fırat Nehri).
The massif is composed of a range of rocks, most notably hard white and light-coloured limestones of Mesozoic age of enormous thickness. These high peaks form the driest, wildest landscape, where karstic features are commonplace. The highest elevations lie between Kemaliye and Pülümür, and include many peaks over 3000 m., most notably Munzur Dağı (3188 m.) in the west and Akbaba Tepesi (3462 m.)- the highest peak - at the eastern end. The mountains drop away sharply to the Karasu canyon to the north and the Zeranik subsidence plain to the south: the terrain is steep and largely impassable, and cliffs reaches to 1000 m. in places. Overall the range has a characteristically Alpine type of morphology, and represents a branch of the Anti-Taurus mountains (the continuation of the Alps mountain chain in Turkey). The peaks have been subjected to the effects of the Pleistocene glaciation, as evidenced in glacial lakes, U-shaped valleys, hanging valleys and moraines. Apart from the massive limestones, igneous andesites and basalt flysch, metamorphic schists and ultrabasic ophiolitic rocks are amongst the other rocks exposed within the range.
The overall richness of the flora of the Munzur Dağlan is exceptional, and the mountain massif can be regarded as one of the richest mountain blocks both in Turkey and Europe, exceeded in richness by only a handful of (often considerably larger) sites (Byfield et al. 2010).

Key biodiversity
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Existing and planned dams, illegal hunting.
Eken et al. 2006

Excessive levels of domestic stock grazing have caused considerable damage to the forest cover within the IPA, and may account for the apparent extinction of Centaurea psephelloides, Onosma affine (both only recorded from the vicinity of Kemaliye) and Campanula oligosperma (from the vicinity of Pülümür). In addition recent surveys have failed to rediscover both Silene oligotricha and Verbascum calycosum.
Construction of the Keban Dam flooded the steep sided canyon of the Kemaliye Karasu (the upper reaches of the Fırat Nehri/Euphrates river) and has resulted in the extinction of three species, namely Astragalus pseudocylindraceus, Barbarea auriculata var. auriculata and Onosma discedens.
The construction of 8 dam lakes is at the planning stage, and includes the Konaktepe I and II Hydroelectric Schemes, together with hydroelectric power stations within the Munzur and Pülümür brooks (Byfield et al., 2010).

Protected areas
National Park, Wild Life Development Area (Eken et al. 2006). 

The Munzur Dağları IPA lies in part within the Munzur Vadisi Milli Parkı (National Park) declared on 21 December 1971, and covering 42,000 ha. The park includes the valley of the Munzur Çayı upstream of Tunceli, but includes little of the mon¬tane habitats along the summit ridgelines. The Ovacık-Munzur Vadisi has also been designated a Permanent Wildlife Reserve.
Centre of Plant Diversity: SWA No. 12, Anti- Taurus Mountains and Upper Euphrates.
Bern Convention Appendix I speries: Typha shuttleworthii.
Bern Convention Endangered Natural Habitats: 34.95 – Irano-Anatolian steppes, 41,7B21-Inner Anatolian stepe oak woods (Byfield et al., 2010)

Habitat and land use
The KBA consists of many different types of flora and it includes high mountain steppes, Pinus sylvestris groups, thick Quercus sp. forests to the northeast and south together with steep rocky cliffs. Together with the rich habitats it possesses, the Munzur Mountains are one of the most important key biodiversity areas of Turkey.

The different topography of the KBA has resulted in the existence of different habitats. Since the high altitude region remains covered with snow most of the year and/or receives a lot of rainfall, it is home to mountain (alpine) fields. The steep rocky areas of this region contains unique plant groups. Lower altitudes include a layer of Quercus sp. forests. The humid valleys contain gallery forests with Acer sp., Juglans sp. and Betula sp. The best example is the Munzur Stream Valley. Another richness of the area is the Pinus sylvestris groups located close to the Ovacık district. Mountain steppe flora is dominant in the wide areas outside the forests. These areas are very important in terms of rare endemic plants (Eken et al. 2006).

The major vegetation types within the KBA are forest, steppe, rock and chasmophyte communities and hygrophilous vegetation. Relict forest vegetation occurs widely within the site, and includes a wide diversity of forest types. The drier Southern flanks of the mountains are dominated by Quercus scrub. Quercus libani and Q. petraea ssp. pinnatiloba forest (with smaller stands of Populus tremula) predominate on the south-eastern slopes at 1500-2000 m. To the south-west, Quercus infectona ssp. boissieri scrub forest occurs, particularly in the vicinity of Kemaliye, Armağan, Kemah and Eriç. Relict populations of natural Juglans regia occur under the more humid conditions of the Koral Deresi near Ovacık. The most diverse forests within the area are to be found on the slopes flanking the Munzur Çayı, from above Ovacık to Tunceli. Amongst the main spedes here are Acer platinoides, A. tataricum, Betula litwinowii, B. pendula, Cornus sanguinea ssp. australis, Franguta alnus ssp. pontica, Fraxinus angustifolia var. angustifolia, Juglans regia, Pistacia eurycarpa, Platanus orientalis, Populus nigra, Prunus divaricata, Quercus libani, Q. petraea ssp. iberica, Q. robur ssp. pedunculiflora, Rhamnus catharticus, Rosa canina, Saiix olba, Tamam smyrnensis and Viburnum opulus.
Juniperus excelsa occurs widely within the site to altitudes of 2500 m., whilst J. oxycedrus ssp. oxycedrus is more common on northern slopes. Pinus sylvestris occurs on both slopes of the Mercan Brook (with Ovacık region), here at the southern edge of its range.
Much of the remainder of the site comprises stepe vegetation rich in rare endemics such as Alkanna froedinii, Campanula ptarmacifolia, Centaurea pyrrhoblephora, Helichrysum arenarium, Paracaryum cristatum and Tchihatchewia isatidea. Such communities are also rich in bulbous species including Allium kharputense, Eranthis hyemalis, Fritillaria alburyana, Hyacinthus orientalis ssp. chionophilus, Muscari coeleste, Puschkinia scüloides, Sternbergia clusiana and Tulipa julia.
The flora of the Munzur massif is exceptionally rich, and has received considerable study since the days of Pierre Aucher-Eloy (who visited Erzincan and Kemah in 1830) and Paul Sintenis (who collected widely during 1889-1890). Overall a total of 1500 taxa have been recorded (with 1407 species alone), of which 228 are Turkish endemics. A number of genera are particularly well represented, including Astragalus (39 taxa), Alyssum (29), Silene (27) and Centaurea (21). Some 143 taxa are regarded as nationally rare, including a remarkable 45 taxa apparently confined to this single massif. These include Aethionema munzurense, Allium tuncelianum, Astragalus pseudocylirıdraceus, Barbarea auriculata var. auriculata, Campanula hedgeı, C. munzurensis, C. oligosperm, C. çuerceto- rum, C. yildirimlii, Carex eriocarpa, Centaurea aucherana, C. psephelloides, Cerasus erzincanica, Eryngium ilex, Galium ceratocarpon, Geranium eginense, Heldreichia atalayi, Hypericum peshmenii, Isatis spectabilis, I. undulata, Minuartia valedictonis, Nepeta dirmenci, Omphalodes davisiana
Astragalus (39 taxa), Alyssum (29), Silene (27) and Centaurea (21). Some 143 taxa are regarded as nationally rare, including a remarkable 45 taxa apparently confined to this single massif. These include Aethionema munzurense, Allium tuncelianum, Astragalus pseudocylindraceus, Barbarea auriculata var. auriculata, Campanula hedgei, C. munzurensis, C. oligosperm, C. quercetorum, C. yildirimlii, Carex eriocarpa, Centaurea aucherana, C. psephelloides, Cerasus erzincanica, Eryngium ilex, Gatium ceratocarpon, Geranium eginense, Heldreichia atalayi, Hypericum peshmenii, Isatis spectabilis, I. undulata, Minuartia valedictonis, Nepeta dirmenci, Omphalodes davisiana, Onosma affine, 0. discedens, Origanum munzurense, Ornithogalum munzurense, Paronychia kurdica ssp. montis-munzur, Ranunculus munzurensis, R. sintenisii, Scrophularia erzincanica, S. subaequiloba, Silene surculosa, S. oligotricha, Stachys munzurdagensis, S. tundjeliensis, Tanacetum cappodocicum, T.munzurdaghensis, Thymus convolutus, Trigonosciadium intermedium, Verbascum calyco- sum, V. heterodontum, V. leiocarpum, Vicia glareosa and Viola bocguetiana. Of these, eight species currently only known from the Munzur Dağları and adjacent Karasu canyon are thought to be extinct, as a result of excessive grazing and creation of the Keban dam lake (Byfield et al. 2010)

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Munzur Mountains. Downloaded from on 02/04/2023.