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.
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).
BirdLife International (2019) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Alborz-e Markazi Protected Area. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/08/2019.