A high-mountain grassy, hilly plateau in the eastern part of the Zailyisky Alatau ridge (Northern Tian-Shan), at the upper border of the coniferous forest belt (tree-line ecotone, subalpine belt). The summer high-mountain pasture ("zhaylau") is an important foraging area for vultures. The plateau extends for 30 km east-west and 10 km south-north. There is one small river, the Assy, along the plateau, with a number of joining springs. The southern slopes surrounding the IBA are open, the northern slopes have patches of spruce forest, juniper scrub and scattered rocks.
Complex of birds of the subalpine belt and tree-line ecotone: Streptopelia orientalis, Pyrrhocorax graculus, Pyrrhocorax pyhrrocorax, Corvus monedula, C.corax, Parus ater, Serinus pusillus, Mycerobas carnipes, Carpodacus erythrinus, Carpodacus rhodochlamys, Carduelis caniceps, Emberiza cia etc. Near the river: Tadorna ferruginea, Charadrius dubius, Cinclus cinclus, single observations of Ibydorhyncha struthersii. Birds of prey: Aegypius monachus, Gyps himalayensis, Buteo buteo, Buteo rufinus, Milvus migrans, Aquila chrysaetos, Gypaetus barbatus, Falco tinnunculus, Falco naumanni, Falco subbuteo etc.
Non-bird biodiversity: Grassy vegetation of the plateau: Festuca sp, Poa sp., Agropyron sp., Geranium, Phlomis, Phleum, Potentilla, with Alchimilla etc at higher elevations. Spruce forest: Picea schrenkiana, with the inclusion of Sorbus tianschanica, Rosa sp., Lonicera sp. etc. Scrub: Juniperus pseudosabina, J. sabina.
Mammals: Canis lupus, Vulpes vulpes, common - Marmota baibacina, a number of rodents. Reptiles: Agkistrodon halis, Ablepharus alaicus. Amphibia: Bufo viridis.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Now the level of grazing is close to optimal and overgrazing is no longer observed. The level of recreation is increasing (the site is 70 km from Almaty - the biggest city in Kazakhstan)and this can cause additional disturbance for vultures.
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
Since 2002, annual surveys of vultures have been conducted within the framework of the project "Status of vultures in Kazakhstan" (T.Katzner, S.Sklyarenko), with support of the WCS. The area is controlled by inspectors of the Zakaznik and National Park.
The IBA is situated within the Alma-Atinskiy Zakaznik and adjacent to the Ile-Alatauskiy State National Nature Park.
Habitat and land use
High-mountain grassy, hilly plateau - tree-line ecotone, subalpine belt. Summer high-mountain pasture ("zhaylau"), used for centuries. During Soviet times, use was very high, now it is moderate. Cattle are present from June to September.
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Assy Plateau. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 24/01/2022.