Eastern Black Sea Mountains This is an IBA in danger! 

Country/territory: Turkey

IBA Criteria met: A1, A2, A3, B1i, B1iii, B1iv, B2 (2004)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 1,728,316 ha

Protection status:

Doga Dernegi
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2016 very high very unfavourable low
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description

The mountains, which begin from the coast line, are relatively low to the west and increase in height to the east. They reach their peak at 3932 meters which is the fourth highest peak of Turkey. There are many peaks above 3000 meters in the region. A few examples are: Deveboynu Hills (3082 m), Soğanlı Mountains (3376 m), Altıparmak Mountain (3499 m), Demir Mountain (3188 m), Güngörmez Mountain (3523 m), Kurt Mountain (3224m) and Gül Mountain (3348 m).
The northern slopes of the mountain are steep along the sea side. Many watercourses and seasonal streams flow from the deep valleys into the sea in the south-north direction, establishing waterfalls. Small glacier lakes and a series of small glaciers are found at the higher levels of the mountain. The mountains stretch steeply, meet the East Anatolian plateau and the Çoruh Valley to the south. The level of heights to the south change between 200 and 1500 meters.
The Eastern Black Sea Mountains are the highest rainfall receiving area of Turkey with an annual rainfall as high as 2500 millimeters. As the altitude increases, temperature differences from warm to cold are experienced. The different geological structure of the region, the amount of rainfall, the temperature differences have resulted in the diversity of habitats and species.
Eken et al. 2006

The region, which is the largest protection area in Turkey, consists of a mountain series mostly in the form of alkaline volcanic rocks, about 250 kilometers in length and includes the Eastern Black Sea coast line. The western border of the region is drawn by the Harşit Stream, the southeastern by the Çoruh River, the eastern by the Karçal Mountains and the Georgian border.
Eken et al. 2006

Key biodiversity
This IBA combines two former IBAs (Kaçkar Dağları [IBA no. 13] and North-east Turkey [IBA no. 16]) but also extends further west and east of these sites. The site includes a major bottleneck of migratory birds of prey (the Çoruh Valley and many other valleys that raptors use to cross the mountain range), as well as three major mountain ranges (Soğanlı, Kaçkar, and Karçal) noted for their extensive forests and extensive alpine habitats (representing a fine example of Eurasian high montane habitat). A number of newly discovered sites that would have qualified as IBAs in their own right have been included within this IBA, emphasizing the fact that the area is of uniform character and that conservation of the area requires a large scale approach. A combination of varied geology, great altitudinal range and distinctive climate (the area has the highest precipitation in Turkey, in places over 2000 mm annually) has resulted in an exceptional vegetation and a wide range of habitats. The climax community at low altitudes is Colchic forest, varying from deciduous forest at low altitudes to Colchic forest at higher altitudes. Above the tree line, extensive alpine grasslands (yayla) and slopes covered with Rhododendrorı and Juniperus scrub prevail, whilst the highest areas are characterised by massive cliffs, rocky scree and rıumerous lakes. The main mountain ridge marks the boundary between the wet Euxine vegetation on the Black Sea slopes and much drier vegetation in the rain shadow area to the south. To the south, Pinus nigra and P. sylvestris dominate the upper slopes, whilst Quercus scrub and open forest dominate the lower slopes. Extensive, largely unvegetated, rocky slopes occur, particularly in the gorge of the Çoruh river (noted for a very rich flora, with exceptionally high endemism).
The area has a very rich flora: ca. 2500 species of vascular plants occur, including 160 endemics to the region. Large mammals are well represented, including Brown Bear Ursus arctos, Chamois Rupicapra rupicapra, lbex Capra aegagrus, Wolf Can is lupus, Wild Cat Felix silvestris and Lynx Lynx lyrıx. The area is also important for a number of amphibians and reptiles, and at least three species of Viper are recorded, including the endemic Vipera pontica which is found only in the Çoruh Valley near Artvin. In addition the area is known for its wide range of butterfly taxa.
"The area qualifies for its breeding populations of Lammergeier (20 pairs), Griffon Vulture (20 pairs), Black Vulture (10 pairs), Golden Eagle (10 pairs), Caucasian Black Grouse (the Turkish distribution of vvhich is confined to this IBA) and Caspian Snowcock. During 1993 a survey revealed the presence of 134 lekking male Caucasian Black Grouse at six of the seven localities studied. Given the small area surveyed and the wide availability of suitable habitat (yaylas with Rhododendron or Juniperus scrub at 1800-3000 m), the entire population in the IBA may exceed one thousand pairs.
North-east Turkey is best known for the vast numbers of raptors that migrate through the area. The mountains and sea force them to follow the north-south oriented valleys, and staggering numbers of raptors have been observed at these bottlenecks. The most complete autumn count (in 1976) produced 380,220 birds including Honey Buzzard (138,000), Black Kite (5775) and Buzzard (205,000), but the actual number of birds migrating through the IBA may actually be much higher as important new passage points have been discovered in recent years. Spring passage involves smaller numbers of birds (max. 205,131 during an 8 week count in 1994) including Honey Buzzard (25,183), Black Kite (9069) and Buzzard (136,327).
The Doğu Karadeniz Dağları is the only Turkish site that qualifies as a Eurasian High Montane (Alpine) biome.
Magnin & Yarar 1997

Raptors MOU - IBA listed under Table 3 of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Eastern Black Sea Mountains. Downloaded from on 02/12/2020.