Alborz-e Markazi Protected Area

Site description (1994 baseline):

Site location and context
The central Alborz (Elburz) region extends from the forested foothills near the Caspian Sea east of Chalus to the summits north of Tehran (4,540 m), some of the highest peaks in the Alborz range. The site is bounded in the west by the main Karadj to Chalus road across the Alborz. It includes the full spectrum of habitat types on the northern slope of the Alborz, including the various types of Caspian forest from sea-level to the treeline, cleared areas on the lower slopes with grassland, cultivated plots and hedgerow communities, stands of Cupressus forest in rain-shadow areas at mid-elevations, Juniperus forest and alpine meadows on the upper slopes, spectacular cliffs and crags at high elevation, and alpine tundra and permanent snow fields on the mountain tops. The region is rather densely populated, especially at lower elevations in the north, with numerous small villages and many roads. Land ownership is public.

Key biodiversity
See box for key species. The reserve supports a very good variety of high Alborz species, including a large population of Tetraogallus caspius, and probably the full complement of Caspian forest species, including high densities of Phasianus colchicus. The region is rich in birds of prey (see box). Other notable species are Phoenicurus erythronotus, Phylloscopus trochiloides nitidus, Ficedula semitorquata, F. parva, Tichodroma muraria, Pyrrhocorax graculus, Montifringilla nivalis, Serinus pusillus, Emberiza leucocephalos and E. buchanani. At least 174 species have been recorded in the reserve.

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: Canis lupus (V), Ursus arctos (rare), Lynx lynx (rare), Panthera pardus (rare), Capra hircus aegagrus (rare) and Ovis ammon (rare).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Small Protected Regions were established in the central Alborz in 1961 and 1962 and these were included in a much larger Protected Region of 423,250 ha established in 1964 (Alborz-e–Markazi). In the early 1970s, this large reserve was zoned into a National Park of 203,000 ha, a Protected Area of 215,450 ha, a Wildlife Refuge of 50 ha and a National Nature Monument of 4,750 ha. In the 1980s, these four components were combined as a single Protected Area, and the total area was reduced to 399,000 ha. No conservation measures are known to have been proposed. Threats comprise overgrazing by domestic livestock, particularly at high elevations, forest clearance for human settlement and agriculture, and logging.

Data-sheet compiled by Dr D. A. Scott, reviewed by Dept of Environment.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Alborz-e Markazi Protected Area. Downloaded from on 23/09/2023.